Objective: To compare the cases of child abuse (CA) with other admissions in a pediatric intensive care unit (PICU) for differences in patient-specific health care costs, severity of illness (SI) and mortality, and describe their outcome.
Method: A retrospective cohort study of all patients admitted to the PICU between January 1991 and August 1994. Discharge diagnosis, age, SI, mortality rate, length of stay, hospitalization charges ($Hosp), and mortality were retrieved.
Results: There were 937 admissions; 13 were secondary to CA. Cases of CA represented 1.4% of admissions and 17% of deaths. CA patients had the highest SI (61%), $Hosp ($30,684), daily charges ($5,294) and mortality rates (53%) than any other group. In our patients, SI is a factor that affects charges. Even when compared to a cohort group with SI, child abuse patients had higher daily hospitalization charges (p < .05). The medical bills for the acute care of a CA patient averaged $35,641 per case. Even with these expenditures, 70% died and 60% of the survivors had severe residual morbidity.
Conclusion: These results confirm that interventional medical care in response to severe CA is very costly and the ultimate outcome is significantly worse than other diseases. Therefore, we believe it is imperative to allocate resources to prevention.