Objectives: Describe the usage of observation status (OS) beds on a pediatric inpatient unit and identify diagnoses likely to be successfully discharged compared to those requiring formal inpatient admission.
Methods: Retrospective chart review of all patients (0-18 years) transferred to pediatric OS beds from the emergency department (ED) between April 1, 1997 and April 30, 1999. Outcome measures consisted of time interval between ED triage and arrival to an OS bed, total hours in observation, and need for admission or transfer. Using relative risk (RR), we compared admission rates for the 4 most common diagnoses.
Results: We studied 800 transfers to pediatric OS beds. Asthma (27%), gastroenteritis/dehydration (16%), infectious disease (12%), and bronchiolitis (9%) were the 4 most common diagnoses. There were 597 patients (75%) successfully discharged from observation and 174 (22%) required inpatient admission. Seventeen patients (2%) were transferred to a psychiatric facility and 12 patients (1%) were transferred to a tertiary care center for further evaluation and treatment. Compared to gastroenteritis/dehydration, patients with asthma were just as likely to be admitted/transferred (RR 1.05, 95% CI, 0.87-1.27), those with an infectious disease were 1.3 times more likely to be admitted/transferred (RR 1.35, 95% CI, 1.0-1.83), and those with bronchiolitis were 2 times more likely to be admitted/transferred (RR 1.92, 95% CI, 1.34-2.74).
Conclusions: We describe the usage of OS beds in a community hospital that we believe can be a successful model for the care of pediatric patients. Future studies are needed to delineate the clinical characteristics of patients that would benefit from this care delivery model.