Objective: To describe epidemiological data concerning paediatric ED visits to an Australian and New Zealand research network.
Methods: We conducted a cross-sectional study of paediatric ED visits to all Paediatric Research in Emergency Departments International Collaborative (PREDICT) sites in 2004. Epidemiological data, including demographics, admission rates and diagnostic grouping, were examined and analysed using descriptive and comparative statistical methods. We compared the data, if possible, with published data from a US paediatric emergency research network (Pediatric Emergency Care Applied Research Network).
Results: A total of 351 440 ED presentations were analysed from 11 PREDICT sites. Mean patient age was 4.6 years and 55% were boys. Presentations were identified as 3% Aboriginal at Australian sites and 44% Maori/Pacific in New Zealand locations. According to Australasian Triage Scale (ATS), 5% were ATS 1 or 2 (to be seen immediately or within 10 min), 27% ATS 3 (to be seen within 30 min) and 67% ATS 4 or 5. Although ED visits peaked in late winter and early spring, admission rates remained unchanged throughout the year with an overall admission rate of 24%. Most frequent diagnoses were acute gastroenteritis, acute viral illness and upper respiratory tract infection. Asthma was the next most common. Pediatric Emergency Care Applied Research Network and PREDICT data showed differences in terms of ethnicity descriptions/distribution and admission rates.
Conclusions: This is the first description of the epidemiology of patient presentations to major paediatric ED in Australia and New Zealand. It details baseline data important to future collaborative studies and for planning health services for children.