Study: Despite Being Routine, Pediatric Tonsillectomy Quality Varies

Though tonsillectomies are one of the most commonly performed pediatric procedures, use of anti-inflammatory drugs, antibiotics prescription and 30-day readmissions differ significantly among hospitals, according to an article in Pediatrics.

Researchers analyzed data from nearly 140,000 children who underwent same-day tonsillectomies and found the following:

  • Administration of anti inflammatory drugs was most often around 76 percent, though their use ranged between 0.3 percent and 98.8 percent of cases, depending on the operating hospital.

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  • Use of antibiotics was most often around 16 percent, though use of antibiotics in individual locations ranged between 2.7 percent and 92.6 percent.
  • While the 30-day revisit rate for the surgery was 7.8 percent across all hospitals, it ranged between 3 percent and 12.6 percent, depending on the hospital.
  • The most common reasons for revisits were bleeding (3 percent) and dehydration (2.2 percent), though these numbers also had wide ranges, between 1 percent and 8.8 percent, and between 0.3 percent and 4.4 percent, respectively.

The safety of tonsillectomies has recently been part of a public discussion due to the case of Jahi McMath, a pediatric patient who became brain dead as a result of complications from tonsillectomy.

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