Pediatric asthma exacerbations are a frequent reason for emergency care. Early administration of oral systemic corticosteroids (OCS) in the emergency department (ED) decreases hospitalization rates and ED length-of-stay (LOS). However, it is unknown whether even earlier OCS administration by emergency medical services (EMS) in the prehospital setting further improves outcomes.
To describe the background and methods of a type 1 hybrid effectiveness-implementation trial of EMS-administered OCS for pediatric asthma patients incorporating a stepped wedge design and the RE-AIM framework.
The study employs a non-randomized stepped wedge design where multiple EMS agencies adopt OCS as a treatment for pediatric asthma exacerbations at varying times. This design accommodates ethical considerations of studying pediatric subjects in the prehospital setting where informed consent is not feasible. We will compare hospitalization rates, ED LOS, and short-term healthcare costs between pediatric asthma patients who do and do not receive OCS from EMS. Using geographic information systems (GIS), we will measure how differences in outcomes scale with increasing EMS transport time. We will use the RE-AIM framework to guide a mixed methods analysis of barriers and enablers to EMS administration of OCS for pediatric asthma patients, including quantitative measures of adoption and uptake and qualitative EMS provider focus group data.
This trial will determine if earlier EMS administration of OCS to pediatric asthma patients decreases hospitalizations, ED LOS, and short-term healthcare costs, and if those outcomes scale with longer EMS transport times. We will identify barriers and enablers to implementing EMS-administered OCS for pediatric asthma patients.

Copyright © 2019. Published by Elsevier Inc.