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Background. In an attempt to reduce the burden of influenza-like illness (ILI) on health resources, the Italian Ministry of Health released clinical practice guidelines (CPGs) on ILI management that include specific indications for the admission of children to the hospital. The aim of this study was to evaluate whether application of these CPGs reduced the rate of inappropriate hospital admissions. Methods. In the first phase, 2 independent observers recorded the number and clinical condition of children presenting with ILI to the emergency department (ED) of a large urban pediatric hospital and the main reasons for hospital admission. The latter were compared with the CPG indications for hospital admission to evaluate appropriateness. One year later (phase 2), we recorded the number of children with ILI admitted to the hospital by pediatricians trained in a 3-hour course on CPGs and by "untrained" control pediatricians. Results. In phase 1 of the study, 854 children accessed the ED; 318 (37.2%) had ILI. Of the latter, 26.2% were admitted to the hospital, and 33.7% of admissions were inappropriate according to CPG criteria. In phase 2, 16% of the children with ILI were admitted by CPG-trained pediatricians and 25.8% by control pediatricians. The number of inappropriate hospital admissions was higher among control than among CPG-trained pediatricians. Conclusions. ILI in children is associated with a high rate of inappropriate hospital admissions. Training of ED pediatricians in the application of a specific CPG may result in a substantial decrease of the admission rate and of inappropriate admissions. Copyright © 2005 by the American Academy of Pediatrics.

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