Purpose: The purpose of this investigation was to develop and test a model for identifying hospital charges resulting from patient admissions through the emergency room of a children's hospital to manage pediatric nontraumatic dental disease.
Method: Model development involved data identification and collection at Children's Medical Center of Dallas, Texas. Its utility was tested in 4 children's hospitals across the United States.
Results: The model proved effective in determining hospital charges for pediatric caries-related admissions. Diagnosis codes assigned at the time of admission were not specific enough to limit identification to nontraumatic dental admissions. Extensive review of patient records determined that only one-third of admitted patients identified by the model were caries-related admissions. Fifty-two children were identified who were admitted to the 5 children's hospitals in 1997 due to dental caries or its complications. Median hospital charge per admission was $3,223 and the total hospital charges for these 52 children was $250,000.
Conclusions: More specific ICD-9 diagnosis codes should be developed to identify these patients.