Readmission rates are rising for kids with complex conditions

Although pediatric hospitalization rates declined between 2010 and 2016 in the U.S., readmission rates increased, particularly among children with complex chronic conditions, according to a study published in Pediatrics.

The researchers used data from the 2010 to 2016 Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project Nationwide Readmissions Database and Nationwide Inpatient Sample to assess and compare admission and readmission trends.

The study found the total number of pediatric admissions fell 21.3 percent (from 1.3 million to 1.0 million a year) from 2010 to 2016, but the complexity of admissions increased over time. In 2010, 16.7 percent of admissions involved at least one complex chronic condition, compared to 22.4 percent of admissions in 2016.

During the same time period, overall pediatric 30-day readmission rates rose from 6.26 percent to 7.02 percent, an annual increase of 1.8 percent. The increase was linked to higher numbers of index admissions for children with chronic conditions, who face a higher readmission risk than pediatric patients without chronic conditions.

"Hospitals serving pediatric patients need to account for the rising complexity of pediatric admissions and develop strategies for reducing readmissions in this high-risk population," the researchers concluded.

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