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Newborn Hospital Deaths Highest for Those Without Insurance

And those transferred between facilities also had higher mortality rates, study says

WEDNESDAY, Dec. 17 (HealthDay News) -- Newborns, especially those lacking insurance, make up the bulk of children who die while in a hospital, new research shows.

The study, published in a recent issue of the Journal of Hospital Medicine, also found that children who were transferred between hospitals died in greater numbers than those who stayed in one hospital.

"As health-care providers and institutions expand their efforts to meet the needs of severely ill children and their families, they need to be aware of the higher mortality rates among the youngest children, those without insurance coverage and those who are transferred from one hospital to another," study co-author Dr. Matthew M. Davis, an associate professor of general pediatrics and internal medicine at the Child Health Evaluation and Research Unit of the University of Michigan Medical School, said in a news release issued by the school. "These children and families may require support services and end-of-life care beyond what is typically available in many hospitals."

The research, which looked at data between 1992 and 2002, found that more than 40 percent of deaths among children occur while they are hospitalized. Almost 69 percent of these are newborns, a fact tempered by newborns also making up the majority of child hospitalizations, the authors noted.

The mortality rate of children without insurance was 0.58 percent in 2002, compared with 0.45 percent for children with Medicaid and 0.33 percent for those covered by private insurance.

Children who were transferred from another hospital, regardless of age, had vastly higher mortality rates than those stayed in one hospital. In 2002, the rate was 1.33 percent for transferred 1- to 5-year-old children, more than five times that of same-aged children who weren't transferred. Among newborns, the gap was greater with 4.75 percent mortality for transfers versus 0.36 percent for non-transfers.

More information

The U.S. Health & Human Services Department has more about finding low-cost or free health insurance for children.

-- Kevin McKeever

SOURCE: University of Michigan, news release, December 2008

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