Management of nutritional iron deficiency anemia for young children in the emergency department

Matthew T. McEvoy, Austin J. Stuckert, Maria I. Castellanos, Megan M. Gilbert, Thomas Pfeiffer, Zachary Prudowsky, Xavier Rios, Gladstone Airewele, M. Fatih Okcu, Jacquelyn M. Powers

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Background: Guidelines for young children with nutritional iron deficiency anemia (IDA) presenting to the emergency department (ED) are lacking, leading to variability in care. We aimed to standardize management of these patients through the development and implementation of an evidence-based algorithm using quality improvement methodology. Procedure: Baseline data of the target population (n = 42; 60% male; median age 22.5 months, median hemoglobin 5.3 g/dl) identified variability across four key measures of clinical management: laboratory evaluation, therapy choice, therapy administration, and patient disposition. Literature review and consensus from pediatric hematology providers informed a draft algorithm that was refined in an iterative multidisciplinary process. From September 2020 to June 2021, we aimed to increase IDA management per the algorithm by ≥20% relative to baseline for the four key outcome measures using sequential Plan-Do-Study-Act (PDSA) cycles. Process measures focusing on provider communication/documentation and balancing measures involving efficiency and therapy-related adverse events were assessed concurrently. Results: Thirty-five patients were evaluated among four PDSA cycles and shared similar characteristics as the baseline population. Improvements of ≥20% above baseline adherence levels or 100% adherence were achieved for all outcome measure across four PDSA cycles. Adherence to recommended laboratory evaluation improved from 43 (baseline) to 71%, therapy choice from 78 to 100%, therapy administration from 50 to 83%, and disposition from 85 to 100%. ED length of stay remained stable. Conclusions: Implementation of a standardized algorithm for young children with nutritional IDA in the ED increased adherence to evidence-based patient care.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere30181
JournalPediatric Blood and Cancer
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2023


  • nutritional iron deficiency anemia
  • quality improvement
  • red blood cell transfusion


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