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Tools for ‘safety netting’ in common paediatric illnesses: a systematic review in emergency care
  1. Evelien de Vos-Kerkhof1,
  2. Dorien HF Geurts1,
  3. Mariska Wiggers2,
  4. Henriette A Moll1,
  5. Rianne Oostenbrink1
  1. 1Department of General Paediatrics, ErasmusMC-Sophia Children's Hospital, Rotterdam, The Netherlands
  2. 2Erasmus University, Rotterdam, The Netherlands
  1. Correspondence to Dr Rianne Oostenbrink, Department of General Paediatrics, ErasmusMC-Sophia Children's Hospital, Room Sp-1549, Wytemaweg 80, Rotterdam 3015 CN, The Netherlands; r.oostenbrink{at}


Context Follow-up strategies after emergency department (ED) discharge, alias safety netting, is often based on the gut feeling of the attending physician.

Objective To systematically identify evaluated safety-netting strategies after ED discharge and to describe determinants of paediatric ED revisits.

Data sources MEDLINE, Embase, CINAHL, Cochrane central, OvidSP, Web of Science, Google Scholar, PubMed.

Study selection Studies of any design reporting on safety netting/follow-up after ED discharge and/or determinants of ED revisits for the total paediatric population or specifically for children with fever, dyspnoea and/or gastroenteritis. Outcomes included complicated course of disease after initial ED visit (eg, revisits, hospitalisation).

Data extraction Two reviewers independently assessed studies for eligibility and study quality. As meta-analysis was not possible due to heterogeneity of studies, we performed a narrative synthesis of study results. A best-evidence synthesis was used to identify the level of evidence.

Results We summarised 58 studies, 36% (21/58) were assessed as having low risk of bias. Limited evidence was observed for different strategies of safety netting, with educational interventions being mostly studied. Young children, a relevant medical history, infectious/respiratory symptoms or seizures and progression/persistence of symptoms were strongly associated with ED revisits. Gender, emergency crowding, physicians’ characteristics and diagnostic tests and/or therapeutic interventions at the index visit were not associated with revisits.

Conclusions Within the heterogeneous available evidence, we identified a set of strong determinants of revisits that identify high-risk groups in need for safety netting in paediatric emergency care being related to age and clinical symptoms. Gaps remain on intervention studies concerning specific application of a uniform safety-netting strategy and its included time frame.

  • Evidence Based Medicine
  • Accident & Emergency
  • Epidemiology
  • General Paediatrics
  • Infectious Diseases
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