Encounters From Device Complications Among Children With Medical Complexity

Hosp Pediatr. 2019 Jan;9(1):6-15. doi: 10.1542/hpeds.2018-0103. Epub 2018 Dec 10.


Objectives: Children with medical complexity (CMC) are commonly assisted by medical devices to support essential body functions, although complications may lead to preventable emergency department (ED) and hospital use. Our objective was to identify predictors of device-complicated ED visits and hospitalizations.

Methods: This single-center retrospective cohort study included patients referred to a Pediatric Complex Care Program between April 1, 2014, and April 30, 2016, assisted by at least 1 medical device. Hospitalizations and ED visits in the year before enrollment were rated for likelihood for being due to device complications. Interrater reliability among 3 independent reviewers was assessed. Bivariate followed by multivariate logistic regression clustered by patient helped us identify associations between demographic, clinical, and device characteristics associated with device-complicated ED or hospital encounters.

Results: Interrater reliability was high (κ = 0.92). Among 98 CMC, device-complicated encounters represented 17% of 258 hospitalizations and 31% of 228 ED visits. Complications of 3 devices (central venous catheters, enteral tubes, and tracheostomy tubes) accounted for 13% of overall hospitalizations and 28% of overall ED visits. Central venous catheter presence (adjusted odds ratio [aOR] 3.2 [95% confidence interval (CI) 1.1-9.5]) was associated with device-complicated ED visits. Gastrojejunostomy/jejunostomy tube presence (aOR 3.3 [95% CI 1.5-7.5]) or tracheostomies with (aOR 8.1 [95% CI 2.3-28.5]) or without (aOR 4.5 [95% CI 1.7-7.5]) ventilator use was associated with device-complicated hospitalizations. Clinical variables were poor predictors of device-complicated encounters.

Conclusions: Device-complicated ED visits and hospitalizations comprised a substantial proportion of total hospital and ED use. Developing interventions to prevent device complications may be a promising strategy to reduce overall CMC use.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Child, Hospitalized / statistics & numerical data*
  • Cohort Studies
  • Emergency Service, Hospital / statistics & numerical data*
  • Equipment Failure
  • Equipment and Supplies / adverse effects*
  • Equipment and Supplies / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Hospitalization / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Retrospective Studies