Emergency management of pediatric skin and soft tissue infections in the community-associated methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus era

Rakesh D. Mistry, Keith Weisz, Halden F. Scott, Elizabeth R. Alpern

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Objectives: Skin and soft tissue infections (SSTIs) are increasing in incidence, yet there is no consensus regarding management of these infections in the era of community-associated methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (CA-MRSA). This study sought to describe current pediatric emergency physician (PEP) management of commonly presenting skin infections. Methods: This was a cross-sectional survey of subscribers to the American Academy of Pediatrics Section on Emergency Medicine (AAP SoEM) list-serv. Enrollment occurred via the list-serv over a 3-month period. Vignettes of equivocal SSTI, cellulitis, and skin abscess were presented to participants, and knowledge, diagnostic, and therapeutic approaches were assessed. Results: In total, 366 of 606 (60.3%) list-serv members responded. The mean (± standard deviation [SD]) duration of practice was 13.6 (±7.9) years, and 88.6% practiced in a pediatric emergency department. Most respondents (72.7%) preferred clinical diagnosis alone for equivocal SSTI, as opposed to invasive or imaging modalities. For outpatient cellulitis, PEPs selected clindamycin (30.6%), trimethoprim-sulfa (27.0%), and first-generation cephalosporins (22.7%); methicillin-sensitive S. aureus (MSSA) was routinely covered, but many regimens failed to cover CA-MRSA (32.5%) or group A streptococcus (27.0%). For skin abscesses, spontaneous discharge (67.5%) was rated the most important factor in electing to perform a drainage procedure; fever (19.9%) and patient age (13.1%) were the lowest. PEPs elected to prescribe trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole (TMP-Sx; 50.0%) or clindamycin (32.7%) after drainage; only 5% selected CA-MRSA-inactive agents. All PEPs suspected CA-MRSA as the etiology of skin abscesses, and many attributed sepsis (22.1%) and invasive pneumonia (20.5%) to CA-MRSA, as opposed to MSSA. However, 23.9% remained unaware of local CA-MRSA prevalence for even common infections. Conclusions: Practice variation exists among PEPs for management of SSTI. These results can be used to measure changes in SSTI practices as standardized approaches are delineated.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)187-193
Number of pages7
JournalAcademic Emergency Medicine
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2010


  • Skin and soft tissue infection
  • Staphylococcus aureus

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Emergency Medicine


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