Timing and Causes of Common Pediatric Readmissions

J Pediatr. 2018 Sep:200:240-248.e1. doi: 10.1016/j.jpeds.2018.04.044. Epub 2018 Jun 7.


Objective: To evaluate and compare readmission causes and timing within the first 30 days after hospitalization for 3 acute and 3 chronic common pediatric conditions.

Study design: Data from the 2013 to 2014 Nationwide Readmissions Database were used to examine the daily percentage of readmissions occurring on days 1-30 and the leading causes of readmission after hospitalization for 3 acute (appendicitis, bronchiolitis/croup, and gastroenteritis) and 3 chronic (asthma, epilepsy, and sickle cell) conditions for patients aged 1-17 years (n = 2 753 488). Data were analyzed using Cox proportional hazards regression.

Results: The 30-day readmission rates ranged from 2.6% (SE, 0.1) after hospitalizations for appendectomy to 19.1% (SE, 0.5) after hospitalizations for sickle cell anemia. More than 50% of 30-day readmissions after acute conditions occurred within 15 days after discharge, whereas readmissions after chronic conditions occurred more uniformly throughout the 30 days after discharge. Higher numbers of patient comorbidities were associated with increased risk of readmission at days 1-7, 8-15, and 16-30 after discharge for all conditions examined. Most 30-day readmissions after chronic conditions were for the same diagnosis or closely related conditions as the index admission (67% for asthma, 65% for seizure disorder, and 82% for sickle cell anemia) in contrast with 50% or fewer readmissions after acute conditions (46% for appendectomy, 47% for bronchiolitis/croup, and 19% for gastroenteritis).

Conclusions: The timing and causes of pediatric readmissions vary greatly across pediatric conditions. To be effective, strategies for reducing readmissions need to account for the index diagnosis to better target the highest risk period and causes for readmission.

Keywords: 30-day readmission; acute conditions; chronic conditions; readmission diagnoses.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Chronic Disease / therapy*
  • Databases, Factual
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Outcome Assessment, Health Care*
  • Patient Readmission / trends*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Time Factors
  • United States