Objectives: To describe the epidemiology and outcomes of serious pediatric submersion injuries and to identify factors associated with an increased risk of death or chronic disability.
Methods: A retrospective database review of 1994-2000 Massachusetts death and hospital discharge data characterized demographic factors; International Classification of Diseases, Ninth Revision (ICD-9), Clinical Modification (ICD-9-CM), or ICD-10 injury codes; and outcomes for state residents 0-19 years of age identified with unintentional submersion injuries. The authors performed logistic regression analysis to correlate outcomes with risk and demographic factors.
Results: The database included 267 cases of serious submersion injury, defined as those requiring hospitalization or leading to death. Of these 267 patients, 125 (47%) drowned, 118 (44%) were discharged home, 13 (5%) were discharged home with intravenous therapy or with availability of a home health aide, and 11 (4%) were discharged to an intermediate care/chronic care facility. The authors observed a trend of improved outcome in successively younger age groups (p < 0.0001). The multivariable logistic regression analysis showed an increased likelihood of poor outcome for males compared with females (odds ratio [OR]: 2.52; 95% confidence interval [95% CI] = 1.31 to 4.84) and for African Americans compared with whites (OR: 3.47; 95% CI = 1.24 to 9.75), and a decreased likelihood of poor outcome for Hispanics compared with whites (OR: 0.056; 95% CI = 0.013 to 0.24).
Conclusions: After serious pediatric submersion injuries, the overall outcome appears largely bimodal, with children primarily discharged home or dying. The observations that better outcomes occurred among younger age groups, females, and Hispanic children, with worse outcomes in African American children, suggest that injury prevention for submersion injuries should consider differences in age, gender, and race/ethnicity.