Readmissions Following Hospitalization for Infection in Children With or Without Medical Complexity

J Hosp Med. 2021 Mar;16(3):134-141. doi: 10.12788/jhm.3505.


Objective: To describe the prevalence and characteristics of infection-related readmissions in children and to identify opportunities for readmission reduction and estimate associated cost savings.

Study design: Retrospective analysis of 380,067 nationally representative index hospitalizations for children using the 2014 Nationwide Readmissions Database. We compared 30-day, all-cause unplanned readmissions and costs across 22 infection categories. We used the Inpatient Essentials database to measure hospital-level readmission rates and to establish readmission benchmarks for individual infections. We then estimated the number of readmissions avoided and costs saved if hospitals achieved the 10th percentile of hospitals' readmission rates (ie, readmission benchmark). All analyses were stratified by the presence/absence of a complex chronic condition (CCC).

Results: The overall 30-day readmission rate was 4.9%. Readmission rates varied substantially across infections and by presence/absence of a CCC (CCC: range, 0%-21.6%; no CCC: range, 1.5%-8.6%). Approximately 42.6% of readmissions (n = 3,576) for children with a CCC and 54.7% of readmissions (n = 5,507) for children without a CCC could have been potentially avoided if hospitals achieved infection-specific benchmark readmission rates, which could result in an estimated savings of $70.8 million and $44.5 million, respectively. Bronchiolitis, pneumonia, and upper respiratory tract infections were among infections with the greatest number of potentially avoidable readmissions and cost savings for children with and without a CCC.

Conclusion: Readmissions following hospitalizations for infection in children vary significantly by infection type. To improve hospital resource use for infections, future preventative measures may prioritize children with complex chronic conditions and those with specific diagnoses (eg, respiratory illnesses).

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Bronchiolitis*
  • Child
  • Hospitalization
  • Humans
  • Patient Readmission
  • Pneumonia*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • United States / epidemiology