Repeat ambulance use by pediatric patients

Acad Emerg Med. 2000 Jan;7(1):36-41. doi: 10.1111/j.1553-2712.2000.tb01888.x.


Objective: To compare pediatric patients transported by ambulance on more than one occasion (repeat) with those transported only once.

Methods: The authors analyzed pediatric (patient < 21 years old) transports for 1992-1995 by the ambulance service that provides 99% of transports for a non-innercity metropolitan area. Repeat transports were compared with single transports with regard to patient age, gender, chief complaint, and payment source.

Results: There were 17,448 transports involving 15,168 patients. Nearly half (49.0%) of the repeat transports involved patients in the oldest age category, 17 to 20.9 years, contrasted with 38.0% of single transports (p < 0.00001). Females comprised 51.4% of the repeat transports and 48.5% of the single transports (p = 0.0008). Traumatic complaints accounted for one-third (33.0%) of the repeat transports and half (51.1%) of the single transports (p < 0.0001). Chief complaints of the patients with repeat transports were more likely to be seizure, assault, abdominal pain, and respiratory problems, and less likely to be falls and motor vehicle-related complaints, than chief complaints of the patients with single transports (p < 0.0001). More than one-third (39.0%) of the repeat transports were funded by Medicaid, in contrast with 19.8% of the single transports (p < 0.0001).

Conclusions: Compared with single transports, repeat transports were more likely to involve patients more than 16 years of age, female, and with a chief complaint of seizure, assault, abdominal pain, or respiratory distress, and more likely to be funded by public insurance (Medicaid). Repeat pediatric transports warrant further investigation. This information may be useful in designing interventions targeted at reducing emergencies and hence ambulance use.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Ambulances / statistics & numerical data*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Emergency Service, Hospital / statistics & numerical data
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Medicaid
  • New Mexico
  • United States