Prevalence and predictors of return visits to pediatric emergency departments

J Hosp Med. 2014 Dec;9(12):779-87. doi: 10.1002/jhm.2273. Epub 2014 Oct 23.


Objective: To determine the rate of return visits to pediatric emergency departments (EDs) and identify patient- and visit-level factors associated with return visits and hospitalization upon return.

Design and setting: Retrospective cohort study of visits to 23 pediatric EDs in 2012 using data from the Pediatric Health Information System.

Participants: Patients <18 years old discharged following an ED visit.

Measures: The primary outcomes were the rate of return visits within 72 hours of discharge from the ED and of return visits within 72 hours resulting in hospitalization.

Results: 1,415,721 of the 1,610,201 ED visits to study hospitals resulted in discharge. Of the discharges, 47,294 patients (3.3%) had a return visit. Of these revisits, 9295 (19.7%) resulted in hospitalization. In multivariate analyses, the odds of having a revisit were higher for patients with a chronic condition (odds ratio [OR]: 1.91, 95% confidence interval [CI]: 1.86-1.96), higher severity scores (OR: 1.42, 95% CI: 1.40-1.45), and age <1 year (OR: 1.32, 95% CI: 1.22-1.42). The odds of hospitalization on return were higher for patients with higher severity (OR: 3.42, 95% CI: 3.23-3.62), chronic conditions (OR: 2.92, 95% CI: 2.75-3.10), age <1 year (1.7-2.5 times the odds of other age groups), overnight arrival (OR: 1.84, 95% CI: 1.71-1.97), and private insurance (OR: 1.47, 95% CI: 1.39-1.56). Sickle cell disease and cancer patients had the highest rates of return at 10.7% and 7.3%, respectively.

Conclusions: Multiple patient- and visit-level factors are associated with revisits. These factors may provide insight in how to optimize care and decrease avoidable ED utilization.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cohort Studies
  • Emergency Service, Hospital / trends*
  • Female
  • Hospitals, Pediatric / trends*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Patient Readmission / trends*
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Prevalence
  • Retrospective Studies