-- Mary Elizabeth Dallas
TUESDAY, Aug. 27 (HealthDay News) -- Unlike the case with adult
readmissions, higher hospital readmission rates for children may
not necessarily indicate poor quality of care, according to new
Parents or guardians looking for a good pediatric hospital
should not base their decision on its readmission rates, the study
The multistate study tracked rates of children being readmitted
to the hospital or visiting the emergency room within one and two
months of being discharged for common childhood conditions.
"As a national way of assessing and tracking hospital quality, pediatric readmissions and revisits, at least for specific diagnoses, are not useful to families trying to find a good hospital, nor to the hospitals trying to improve their pediatric care," study author Dr. Naomi Bardach, an assistant professor of pediatrics at the University of California, San Francisco, Benioff Children's Hospital, said in a UCSF news release. "Measuring and reporting them publicly would waste limited hospital and health care resources."
In conducting the study, the researchers examined nearly 1,000
hospitals that admitted children for seven common pediatric
conditions: asthma, dehydration, pneumonia, appendicitis, skin
infections, mood disorders and epilepsy. They determined the rates
of readmissions and visits to the hospital within 30 and 60 days of
being discharged for each condition.
The study revealed that 30-day readmission rates were 7.6
percent for mood disorders, 6.1 percent for epilepsy and 6 percent
for dehydration. However, 30-day readmission rates for all the
other conditions at all the hospitals were less than 5 percent.
Given these findings, the researchers concluded that few hospitals
that care for kids can be rated as being better or worse based on
"With average 30-day readmission rates hovering around 5 percent, there is little space for a hospital to be identified as having better performance," Bardach said.
Only one of the hospitals performed better than average when it
came to readmissions for asthma, while four performed worse. Two
hospitals performed better than average on appendicitis
readmissions and two performed worse. There were no differences
among hospitals in average performance for pneumonia and
dehydration. Only one hospital of more than 600 performed below
average on seizure readmission rates.
"The low number of outliers is likely due to the fact that most hospitals just don't admit very many kids, because children are healthier than adults," Bardach said.
The researchers said larger studies involving children with
similar diagnoses could improve the usefulness of readmission rates
as a measure of hospital performance or quality of care.
The study will appear in the September issue of the journal
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services outlines
reduce hospital readmissions.
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