It’s the middle of the night in your emergency department and a little kid is brought in by his parents. The child opens their mouth to cough and the noise is, well, disconcerting. Maybe it’s stridor, the barking sound of croup, or a wheeze so pronounced that the parents gasp for air, too.
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Is it worthy of a hospital admission? Or will it pass?
Ian Kane, MD, a pediatric emergency physician at the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston, hopes to demystify those questions at his ACEP18 session, “Cough, Stridor, and Wheeze in the Pediatric Patient: Gone in 30 Minutes.”
“I want to remove some of the fear factor involved with the weird sounds kids can make,” Dr. Kane said. “Because a lot of providers may not see kids on a day-to-day basis or as often as others, I want to demystify some of the presentations they may see and give them a nice framework for how to approach these kids.”
Dr. Kane emphasized that emergency physicians need to move past the sounds they hear to determine the severity of a child’s condition.
“What you really need to pay attention to is what you see with your eyes, not necessarily what you hear with your stethoscope,” he said. “Some of these sounds that kids make are bizarre and can be really scary, but it’s more important to take the whole picture in…things that you see rather than what you hear, because the lung exam in kids can be notoriously unreliable.”
Richard Quinn is a freelance writer in New Jersey.