PEDIATRICS recent issues

Ethical and Public Health Implications of Targeted Screening for Congenital Cytomegalovirus

Congenital cytomegalovirus (cCMV) is the most common congenital infection and is associated with sensorineural hearing loss, developmental delays, and visual impairment. The clinical presentation of cCMV is variable, and the majority (80%–90%) of newborns will never manifest any clinical symptoms. Given the clinical heterogeneity of cCMV infection, it is challenging to identify which newborns may benefit from testing. Recently, certain states have implemented a targeted screening program in which newborns who fail the newborn hearing screen are tested for cCMV. Clinicians and legislative bodies have been propelled into debates about the ethical and moral permissibility of a targeted cCMV screening approach. Those who oppose this screening approach describe undue burden on patients, families, and the health care system because the majority of newborns who fail the newborn hearing screen and have cCMV will not go on to have any sequelae related to cCMV, including hearing loss. However, those who support this screening approach cite the importance of early detection and ongoing surveillance for hearing loss and developmental delays in this high-risk group of newborns. This debate will be considered by experts in the field.

Defining the Essential Components of a Teaching Service

OBJECTIVES:

A large portion of residency education occurs in inpatient teaching services without widely accepted consensus regarding the essential components that constitute a teaching service. We sought to generate consensus around this topic, with the goal of developing criteria programs that can be used when creating, redesigning, or evaluating teaching services.

METHODS:

A list of potential components of teaching services was developed from a literature search, interviews, and focus groups. Eighteen pediatric medical education experts participated in a modified Delphi method, responding to a series of surveys rating the importance of the proposed components. Each iterative survey was amended on the basis of the results of the previous survey. A final survey evaluating the (1) effort and (2) impact of implementing components that had reached consensus as recommended was distributed.

RESULTS:

Each survey had 100% panelist response. Five survey rounds were conducted. Fourteen attending physician characteristics and 7 system characteristics reached consensus as essential components of a teaching service. An additional 25 items reached consensus as recommended. When evaluating the effort and impact of these items, the implementation of attending characteristics was perceived as requiring less effort than system characteristics but as having similar impact.

CONCLUSIONS:

Consensus on the essential and recommended components of a resident teaching service was achieved by using the modified Delphi method. Although the items that reached consensus as essential are similar to those proposed by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education, those that reached consensus as recommended are less commonly discussed and should be strongly considered by institutions.

Coinfection and Other Clinical Characteristics of COVID-19 in Children

BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVES:

Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) is a newly identified pathogen that mainly spreads by droplets. Most published studies have been focused on adult patients with coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), but data concerning pediatric patients are limited. In this study, we aimed to determine epidemiological characteristics and clinical features of pediatric patients with COVID-19.

METHODS:

We reviewed and analyzed data on pediatric patients with laboratory-confirmed COVID-19, including basic information, epidemiological history, clinical manifestations, laboratory and radiologic findings, treatment, outcome, and follow-up results.

RESULTS:

A total of 74 pediatric patients with COVID-19 were included in this study. Of the 68 case patients whose epidemiological data were complete, 65 (65 of 68; 95.59%) were household contacts of adults. Cough (32.43%) and fever (27.03%) were the predominant symptoms of 44 (59.46%) symptomatic patients at onset of the illness. Abnormalities in leukocyte count were found in 23 (31.08%) children, and 10 (13.51%) children presented with abnormal lymphocyte count. Of the 34 (45.95%) patients who had nucleic acid testing results for common respiratory pathogens, 19 (51.35%) showed coinfection with other pathogens other than SARS-CoV-2. Ten (13.51%) children had real-time reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction analysis for fecal specimens, and 8 of them showed prolonged existence of SARS-CoV-2 RNA.

CONCLUSIONS:

Pediatric patients with COVID-19 presented with distinct epidemiological, clinical, and radiologic characteristics from adult patients. Nearly one-half of the infected children had coinfection with other common respiratory pathogens. It is not uncommon for pediatric patients to have prolonged fecal shedding of SARS-CoV-2 RNA during the convalescent phase.

A Case Series of the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) in 3 Febrile Infants in New York

We describe 3 febrile infants <2 months of age admitted to a large tertiary care children’s hospital in New York and subsequently found to be infected with severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2. All 3 patients presented with fever, feeding difficulty, lymphopenia, and thrombocytosis on laboratory evaluation. Two of the 3 patients were found to have neutropenia, and 2 had known exposures to sick contacts. In this case series, we describe 3 of the youngest patients to be reported with severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 in the United States.

Pediatric Palliative Care in a Pandemic: Role Obligations, Moral Distress, and the Care You Can Give

Many ethical issues arise concerning the care of critically ill and dying patients during the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. In this issue’s Ethics Rounds, we present 2 cases that highlight 2 different sorts of ethical issues. One is focused on the decisions that have to be made when the surge of patients with respiratory failure overwhelm ICUs. The other is focused on the psychological issues that arise for parents who are caring for a dying child when infection-control policies limit the number of visitors. Both of these situations raise challenges for caregivers who are trying to be honest, to deal with their own moral distress, and to provide compassionate palliative care.

The Ethics of Creating a Resource Allocation Strategy During the COVID-19 Pandemic

The coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic has affected nearly every aspect of medicine and raises numerous moral dilemmas for clinicians. Foremost of these quandaries is how to delineate and implement crisis standards of care and, specifically, how to consider how health care resources should be distributed in times of shortage. We review basic principles of disaster planning and resource stewardship with ethical relevance for this and future public health crises, explore the role of illness severity scoring systems and their limitations and potential contribution to health disparities, and consider the role for exceptionally resource-intensive interventions. We also review the philosophical and practical underpinnings of crisis standards of care and describe historical approaches to scarce resource allocation to offer analysis and guidance for pediatric clinicians. Particular attention is given to the impact on children of this endeavor. Although few children have required hospitalization for symptomatic infection, children nonetheless have the potential to be profoundly affected by the strain on the health care system imposed by the pandemic and should be considered prospectively in resource allocation frameworks.

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