eLetters

63 e-Letters

published between 2018 and 2021

  • Authors' reply:

    I would like to thank Professor Mitch Blair for his valuable input and bringing up the issue of considering symptoms onset when interpreting point-of-care test results in acute care settings. Recognizing serious infection in children can be challenging, especially at disease onset when the severity of the infection is unclear. Although the choice of biomarker is pivotal in the risk assessment of acutely ill children guided by the point-of-care test result, we had very good rationale to choose C-reactive protein (CRP) as our preferred test.

    Previous research:
    CRP and procalcitonin were identified as the best inflammatory markers for serious infections in children to date in a systematic review, which only identified studies from hospital settings.[1] A CRP <20mg/L and procalcitonin <0.5ng/mL significantly reduce the risk of missing a serious infection in children. Our recent study on point-of-care (POC) CRP in primary care found an even lower threshold of 5mg/L to rule out serious infection in those children, probably due to the early presentation in primary care, when the inflammatory response is still developing, which indeed confirms the importance of setting.[2]
    However, as shown in Figure 6 of the paper by Van den Bruel et al., C-reactive protein and procalcitonin had comparable diagnostic accuracy in the systematic review, as the shape of the curves was roughly similar and the confidence intervals were largely overlapping.[1]

    Practical...

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  • CRP first? : Less is better for education

    With great interest, I read a recent study by Verakel et al (1). illustrating the utility of a newly developed algorithm for excluding serious infections (SI) in acutely ill children. Their algorithm stratifies patients into three risk groups based on the values of point-of-care C reactive protein (POC CRP) and is meant to assist the decision making of physicians, especially trainees. This method demonstrated excellent diagnostic performance and enabled physicians to rule out 36% of SI in children visiting outpatient clinics and emergency departments. However, their proposed method does raise some concerns about potential negative consequences in the educational context.
    The algorithm requires physicians to perform the POC CRP test for all patients regardless of their pre-test probability of SIs. In addition, their model may lead young physicians to draw conclusions about the patients’ clinical features only after estimating the risk of SI based on the POC CRP value and may cause them to neglect the importance of history taking and physical examinations.
    As the authors state, the POC CRP is an innovative tool in pediatric acute care; a POC sample can be obtained by a simple finger prick and the test results can be obtained within several minutes. Nevertheless, in pediatric practice sometimes “doing nothing” is better than “doing something”. This may well be one of the most important principles in pediatrics (2-4). Our role as senior physicians is to show traine...

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  • Population-based study of cognitive outcomes in congenital heart defects: Novel Information about a not so uncommon entity

    I read the article with interest and wish to congratulate the authors for their genuine work on a little known subject.
    However there are certain points which require elaboration:
    (a) It is likely that there are independent genetic factors that are responsible for a baby being born SGA and the same factors may be playing a role in affecting cognitive outcomes.These factors have not been addressed in the study.
    (b) Cognitive outcome of a child is the result of certain internal and certain extraneous factors (eg environmental stimulation).The extraneous factors may confound the results of the above study.
    (c) Open heart surgery per se may be detrimental to the cognitive development of a child .But there are certain factors such as Bypass time,duration of mechanical ventilation,exposure to hypotensive milieu,etc that need to be explored in order to get an indepth insight into the subject.
    To summarize, the article is a praiseworthy effort into a novel field which opens up potentials of further avenues of research.

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