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Admission-Day Crowding May Increase Hospital Stay for Children With Less Complicated Illnesses
Date:4/9/2008

PHILADELPHIA, April 9, 2008 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- When a hospital is crowded on admission day, children may be in for a longer hospital stay if they have less complicated illnesses that require ongoing assessment of their condition, such as respiratory disease. Hospital crowding does not affect the length of stay for children with the most serious, complicated conditions, such as sickle cell crises or bacterial meningitis.

"Our findings suggest that during a period of increased workload, hospital caregivers first focus their attention on the complicated, more acutely ill children, and thus delay treatment of less complicated children whose care still requires complex management and treatment," said lead author Scott Lorch, M.D. M.S.C.E., a neonatologist at The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia and lead author of the study.

Respiratory conditions are the most common reasons for pediatric hospitalization. While they tend to be less severe than other conditions, children with these conditions require time-consuming, ongoing assessment of both their respiratory status and their ability to wean from therapies such as supplemental oxygen and nebulizer treatments. Their care also involves multiple health care providers such as nurses, respiratory therapists and physicians throughout their hospital stay.

The researchers looked at all the children admitted to 323 hospitals in Pennsylvania and New York. The 116,000 children were between the ages of one and 17 years and were diagnosed with one of 19 common pediatric conditions between April 1996 and June 1998. The study appears in the April issue of the journal Pediatrics.

Overall, more that 20 percent of children in this study were admitted when the hospital occupancy rate was approximately 90 percent; and 11 percent of children were admitted when the occupancy rate was at 100 percent. During the time of this study, the median hospital occupancy rate was 75 percent.

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SOURCE The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia
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