Who comes back with what: a retrospective database study on reasons for emergency readmission to hospital in children and young people in England

Wijlaars, L.P.M.M. et al. Archives of Disease in Childhood.  Published Online: 25 April 2016

10998-2Objective: To determine the proportion of children and young people (CYP) in England who are readmitted for the same condition.

Design: Retrospective cohort study.

Setting: National administrative hospital data (Hospital Episode Statistics).

Participants: CYP (0-year-olds to 24-year-olds) discharged after an emergency admission to the National Health Service in England in 2009/2010.

Main outcome measures: Coded primary diagnosis classified in six broad groups indicating reason for admission (infection, chronic condition, injury, perinatal related or pregnancy related, sign or symptom or other). We grouped readmissions as ≤30 days or between 31 days and 2 years after the index discharge. We used multivariable logistic regression to determine factors at the index admission that were predictive of readmission within 30 days.

Results: 9% of CYP were readmitted within 30 days. Half of the 30-day readmissions and 40% of the recurrent admissions between 30 days and 2 years had the same primary diagnosis group as the original admission. These proportions were consistent across age, sex and diagnostic groups, except for infants and young women with pregnancy-related problems (15–24 years) who were more likely to be readmitted for the same primary diagnostic group. CYP with underlying chronic conditions were readmitted within 30 days twice as often (OR: 1.93, 95% CI 1.89 to 1.99) compared with CYP without chronic conditions.

Conclusions: Financial penalties for readmission are expected to incentivise more effective care of the original problem, thereby avoiding readmission. Our findings, that half of children come back with different problems, do not support this presumption.

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