New research published in JAMA Network Open investigated how surges in three respiratory illnesses—respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), influenza, and COVID-19—affected care for children who presented at emergency departments throughout Michigan. 

In the cohort study, the researchers examined more than 2.7 million visits to 25 emergency departments within the Michigan Emergency Department Improvement Collaborative (MEDIC) that took place in 2021 and 2022. These include children’s hospitals, community hospitals, and rural emergency departments. The researchers focused on a four-month period (September–December 2022) when the country experienced a surge in cases of RSV, influenza, and COVID-19 and in emergency department patient volumes. Among the findings of the study are that prolonged wait times and lengths of stay were more common at specialized children’s hospitals than at other sites and that higher visit volumes were associated with increased likelihood of revisits to emergency departments across hospitals. They concluded that advanced preparation and collaboration across all emergency departments may improve and enhance care for children during surges in illnesses. 

Michelle Macy, MD, MS, Attending Physician of Emergency Medicine at Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago and a member of MEDIC, is a co-author of the study. Dr. Macy collaborated with researchers at the University of Michigan.