Objective: We sought to characterize variation in hospital resource utilization and readmission for diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA) across US children's hospitals.
Methods: The study sample included a retrospective cohort of children aged 2 to 18 years with a diagnosis of DKA at 38 children's hospitals between 2004 and 2009. The main outcomes were resource utilization as determined by total standardized cost per hospitalization, overall and non-ICU length of stay (LOS), and readmission for DKA within 30 and 365 days.
Results: There were 24,890 DKA admissions, and 20.3% of these were readmissions within 1 year. The mean hospital-level total standardized cost was $7142 (range $4125-$11,916). The mean hospital-level LOS was 2.5 days (1.5-3.7), and the non-ICU portion was 1.9 days (0.7-2.7). The mean hospital-level readmission within 365 days was 18.7% (6.5%-41.1%) and within 30 days was 2.5% (0.0%-7.1%). Hospital bed days overall, and in particular the non-ICU portion, accounted for the majority of the total standardized cost per hospitalization (overall 57%; non-ICU 36%) and explained most of the variation in resource use. Even after adjusting for difference in patient characteristics across hospitals, widespread differences existed across hospitals in total standardized cost, LOS, and readmission rates (P < .001).
Conclusions: Readmission for DKA within a year of hospitalization is common. US children's hospitals vary widely in resource use, hospital LOS, and readmission rates for patients with DKA. Our study highlights the need for additional research to understand these differences and to identify the most cost-effective strategies for managing diabetes across the continuum of care.
Keywords: DKA; Pediatric Research in Inpatient Settings (PRIS) network; diabetic ketoacidosis; hospitalist; readmission; type 1 diabetes mellitus.