Eliminating Lumbar Puncture for Low-Risk Febrile Infants: A Quality Improvement Initiative.

Year of Publication


Date Published

2021 Jul 06

ISSN Number



<p><strong>BACKGROUND: </strong>Bacterial meningitis in low-risk febrile young infants (FYIs) aged &gt;28 days has become increasingly rare. Routine performance of lumbar puncture (LP) in these infants is associated with adverse consequences and may be unnecessary. We modified our clinical practice guideline (CPG) to reduce the number of FYIs 29 to 56 days old who receive LP.</p>

<p><strong>METHODS: </strong>This quality improvement project sought to modify a preexisting CPG to diagnose and manage FYIs 0 to 56 days old that eliminated routine performance of LP in children 29 to 56 days old who were considered low-risk for serious bacterial infection. The change was implemented by making adjustments to the online CPG. A statistical process control chart was used to assess the affect of the initiative on our primary outcome of LP rate in this population of FYIs.</p>

<p><strong>RESULTS: </strong>Postimplementation of the CPG initiative, 71% of FYIs 29 to 56 days old did not receive LP, compared with 42% preimplementation. This practice change was also associated with fewer hospitalizations, lower median emergency department (ED) length of stay, and fewer 72-hour ED revisits. Over 3 years of sustained practice, 1/713 (0.1%; 95% confidence interval, 0%-0.8%) low-risk FYI returned within 72 hours and was subsequently treated for probable bacterial meningitis, although cerebrospinal fluid culture was negative for bacterial growth.</p>

<p><strong>CONCLUSIONS: </strong>A change in CPG reduced the number of LPs performed in febrile infants 29 to 56 days old. This change resulted in fewer LPs, hospitalizations, ED revisits, and a lower ED length of stay for FYIs 29 to 56 days old.</p>



Alternate Title

Pediatr Emerg Care




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