Hospitals cut pediatrics to make room for more lucrative adult patients

Hospitals nationwide are facing unprecedented financial challenges and operating in the negative. As a result, many are opting to shutter pediatric units to make room for more adult patients, who are usually more profitable, The New York Times reported Oct. 11. 

Pediatric inpatient units in the U.S. fell nearly 20 percent from 2008 to 2018, according to federal data cited by the Times. That's the most recent year for which national data are available, though plenty of hospitals in recent months have shared plans to end inpatient pediatric services: Tulsa, Okla.-based St. John Medical Center closed its children's floor in April; Richmond, Va.-based Henrico Doctors' Hospital shuttered inpatient pediatric services in April, and Boston-based Tufts Children's Hospital did the same in July, transitioning the space to make room for adult intensive care unit and medical/surgical beds.

"They’re asking: Should we take care of kids we don’t make any money off of, or use the bed for an adult who needs a bunch of expensive tests?" Daniel Rauch, MD, chief of pediatric hospital medicine for Tufts Medicine, told the news outlet. "If you're a hospital, that's a no-brainer." Dr. Rauch was head of the general pediatric unit at Tufts until it closed. 

The rise in pediatric inpatient closures has been especially burdensome for people living in rural communities with many families having to drive hours to the nearest children's hospital that has room for their child. For families with chronically ill children, routinely traveling for care can cause financial strain or cause them to skip on care, experts told the Times

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