2017 AAAEM Benchmarking Survey: Comparing Pediatric and Adult Academic Emergency Departments

Pediatr Emerg Care. 2021 Dec 1;37(12):e1278-e1284. doi: 10.1097/PEC.0000000000002002.


Objectives: The Academy of Administrators in Academic Emergency Medicine Benchmark Survey of academic emergency departments (EDs) was conducted in 2017. We compared operational measures between pediatric and adult (defined as fewer than 5% pediatric visits) EDs based on survey data. Emergency departments in dedicated pediatric hospitals were not represented.

Methods: Measures included: (1) patient volumes, length of stay, and acuity; and 2) faculty staffing, productivity, and percent effort in academics. t Tests were used to compare continuous measures and inferences for categorical variables were made using Pearson χ2 test.

Results: The analysis included 17 pediatric and 52 adult EDs. We found a difference in the number of annual visits between adult (median, 66,275; interquartile range [IQR], 56,184-77,702) and pediatric EDs (median, 25,416; IQR, 19,840-29,349) (P < 0.0001). Mean "arrivals per faculty clinical hour" and "total arrivals per treatment space" showed no differences. The proportion of visits (1) arriving by emergency medical services and (2) for behavioral health were significantly higher in adult EDs (both P < 0.0001). The mean length of stay in hours for "all" patients was significantly longer in adult (5.4; IQR, 5.0-6.6) than in pediatric EDs (3.5; IQR, 2.9-4.3; P = 0.017). A similar difference was found for "discharged" patients (P = 0.004). Emergency severity indices, professional evaluation and management codes, and hospitalization rates all suggest higher acuity in adult EDs (all P < 0.0001). There were no differences in mean work relative value units per patient or in the distribution of full time equivalent effort dedicated to academics.

Conclusions: In this cohort, significant differences in operational measures exist between academic adult and pediatric EDs. No differences were found when considering per unit measures, such as arrivals per faculty clinical hour or per treatment space.

MeSH terms

  • Benchmarking
  • Child
  • Emergency Medical Services*
  • Emergency Medicine*
  • Emergency Service, Hospital
  • Hospitals, Pediatric
  • Humans