Objective: Pediatric patients comprise 13% of emergency medical services (EMS) transports, and most are transported to general emergency departments (ED). EMS transport destination policies may guide when to transport patients to a children's hospital, especially for medical complaints. Factors that influence EMS providers 'decisions about where to transport children are unknown. Our objective was to evaluate the factors associated with pediatric EMS transports to children's hospitals for medical complaints.
Methods: We performed a cross-sectional study of a large, urban EMS system over a 12-month period for all transports of patients 0-17 years old. We electronically queried the EMS database for demographic data, medical presentation and management, comorbidities, and documented reasons for choosing destination. Distances to the destination hospital and nearest children's and community hospital (if not the transport destination) were calculated. Univariate and multiple logistic regression analyses were conducted to determine the association between independent variables and the transport destination.
Results: We identified 10,065 patients, of which 6982 (69%) were for medical complaints. Of these medical complaints, 3518 (50.4%) were transported to a children's hospital ED. Factors associated with transport to a children's hospital include ALS transport, greater transport distance, protocol determination, developmental delay, or altered consciousness. Factors associated with transport to general EDs were older age, unknown insurance status, lower income, greater distance to children's or community hospital, destination determined by closest facility or diversion, abnormal respiratory rate or blood glucose, psychiatric primary impression, or communication barriers present.
Conclusions: We found that younger patient age, EMS protocol requirements, and paramedic scene response may influence pediatric patient transport to both children's and community hospitals. Socioeconomic factors, ED proximity, diversion status, respiratory rate, chief complaints, and communication barriers may also be contributing factors. Further studies are needed to determine the generalizability of these findings to other EMS systems.
Keywords: Destination; Pediatrics; Prehospital; Transport.
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