Unplanned pediatric intensive care unit readmissions: a single-center experience

J Crit Care. 2013 Oct;28(5):625-33. doi: 10.1016/j.jcrc.2013.02.008. Epub 2013 Apr 16.


Purpose: The purpose of the study was to compare patients readmitted to the pediatric intensive care unit (PICU) unexpectedly within 48 hours (early), more than 48 hours from transfer (late), or not readmitted during the same hospitalization.

Materials and methods: A retrospective study (2007-2009) was performed at a tertiary care pediatric academic hospital. Readmitted at-risk patients were grouped by timing of readmission, and a sample of nonreadmitted patients was randomly selected. Early readmissions were compared to late readmissions and to nonreadmissions.

Results: Of 3805 eligible patients, 3.9% had an unplanned PICU readmission with almost half occurring within 48 hours. Median times to readmission were 21.5 hours (early) and 7 days (late). Compared with late readmissions, early readmissions were more often admitted from and transferred to a surgical service, transferred on a weekend, and readmitted with the same primary diagnosis. Compared with nonreadmitted patients, independent risk factors for early readmission were admission source and respiratory support at PICU transfer. Readmitted patients had longer total PICU and hospital lengths of stay than nonreadmitted patients. Late readmissions had a higher mortality than early readmissions.

Conclusions: Patients requiring an unplanned PICU readmission had worse outcomes than those without a readmission. Future studies should focus on identifying modifiable risk factors for targeted interventions.

Keywords: Patient readmissions; Pediatric intensive care units; Quality indicators (health care).

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Intensive Care Units, Pediatric / statistics & numerical data*
  • Length of Stay / statistics & numerical data
  • Male
  • Patient Readmission / statistics & numerical data*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Time Factors
  • Treatment Outcome