Objective: To describe the epidemiology of pediatric visits to the emergency departments (EDs) of 10 general hospitals by age and gender.
Design: Review of ICD-9 codes from the billing database of a practice of emergency physicians.
Setting: Ten hospitals in north/central New Jersey.
Patients: All children <18 years treated by group physicians in EDs of study hospitals.
Main outcome measures: Diagnoses and visits.
Results: There were 319,430 diagnoses recorded for 241,839 children (18.9% of the 1,277,233 total visits by all ages). The number of visits was highest in the <2 and >14 years age groups, with males predominating in all age groups. The number of visits from trauma increased with age. Otitis accounted for over 3% of all ED visits in this sample, over 7000 visits.
Conclusions: Children account for a significant portion of ED visits in general hospitals. EDs need to be equipped and staffed to handle this clientele.