DOI: 10.1097/pec.0000000000003072 ISSN: 1535-1815

Management of Children With Uncomplicated Cellulitis in Emergency and Hospital Settings

Grace St. Cyr, Jana Jaffe, Maxwell McMahon, Todd A. Florin, Michael C. Verre, Wee-Jhong Chua
  • General Medicine
  • Emergency Medicine
  • Pediatrics, Perinatology and Child Health


The aim of the study is to establish consensus recommendations on features used to determine the route of antibiotic administration and disposition for children with uncomplicated cellulitis.


Modified Delphi methodology was performed with 2 rounds of confidential surveys of Emergency medicine and hospital medicine (HM) providers at Lurie Children's Hospital to assess cellulitis management in children (ages 6 months–18 years) without signs of sepsis or abscess formation. Using a 9-point Likert scale, emergency medicine providers ranked features by perceived level of importance when deciding initial antibiotic route and HM providers ranked features on importance when transitioning to oral antibiotics. Responses were grouped as not important (1–3), neutral (4–6), and important (7–9) and re-evaluated in the second round to reach consensus, defined as ≥70% agreement.


Emergency medicine providers (n = 17) reached consensus on 15 of 16 features (93.8%), 10 deemed important. Participants reached greatest consensus (100%) on fevers/chills, lymphangitis, and functional impairment as considerations for initiating intravenous antibiotics. HM providers (n = 15) reached consensus on 9 of 11 factors (81.8%), with 7 considered important when deciding on readiness for oral antibiotics. Providers indicated that stability, rather than reduction, of erythematous margins is sufficient to consider transition and de-escalation of therapy at less than 24 hours if all other clinical improvement criteria are met.


This study achieved consensus on important features for treatment and disposition of children with uncomplicated cellulitis in both emergency and inpatient contexts. These features have the potential to aid in decision making and improve standardization of clinical practice.

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