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Medical and social factors associated with the admission and discharge of acutely ill children

By M Stewart, U Werneke, R McFaul, J Taylor-Meek, H E Smith and I J Smith


Aim: To examine medical and sociodemographic factors involved in acute paediatric admission. To compare outcome of admission with factors present at time of admission. Methods: Prospective questionnaire based study of 887 consecutive emergency general paediatric admissions to five Yorkshire hospitals during two separate three week periods in summer and winter. Main Outcome Measures: Discharge diagnosis, length of stay. Results: Most admissions (53%) occurred “out of hours” with a peak during the evening. Two thirds (64%) of patients were under 3 years of age and clinical problems varied with age. Self referral via an accident and emergency department occurred in one third and was more likely after a fit in older children and in more socioeconomically deprived children. The most frequent presenting problems were breathing difficulty (24%), fit (16%), and feverish illness (15%). One quarter (24%) were discharged within 24 hours and 61% spent, at most, one night in hospital. Length of stay was shorter for night admissions and longer for children with a discharge diagnosis of asthma. Although most children had mild, self limiting illnesses, serious illness was subsequently found in 13% and could not be predicted from the presenting problems. Conclusions: Current demand on emergency paediatric admission is mainly from young children with mild self limiting illnesses who spend one night or less in hospital. Changes in delivery of care to acutely ill children must take account of the pattern and nature of presenting problems and be rigorously audited to ensure that improvements in the health of children continue

Publisher: BMJ Publishing Group
Year: 1998
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