A 5-year retrospective cohort study of unplanned readmissions in an Australian tertiary paediatric hospital
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Objective: The aim of this study was to examine the characteristics and prevalence of all-cause unplanned hospital readmissions at a tertiary paediatric hospital in Western Australia from 2010 to 2014. Methods: A retrospective cohort descriptive study was conducted. Unplanned hospital readmission was identified using both 28- and 30-day measurements from discharge date of an index hospital admission to the subsequent related unplanned admission date. This allowed international comparison. Results: In all, 73 132 patients with 134 314 discharges were identified. During the 5-year period, 4070 discharges (3.03%) and 3330 patients (4.55%) were identified as 30-day unplanned hospital readmissions. There were minimal differences in the rate of readmissions on Days 28, 29 and 30 (0.2%). More than 50% of readmissions were identified as a 5-day readmission. Nearly all readmissions for croup and epiglottitis occurred by Day 5 those for acute bronchiolitis and obstructive sleep apnoea requiring tonsillectomy and/or adenoidectomy occurred by Day 15 and those for acute appendicitis and abdominal and pelvic pain occurred by Day 30. Conclusion: This study highlights the variability in the distribution of time intervals from discharge to readmission among diagnoses, suggesting the commonly used 28- or 30-day readmission measurement requires review. It is crucial to establish an appropriate measurement for specific paediatric conditions related to readmissions for the accurate determination of the prevalence and actual costs associated with readmissions. What is known about this topic?: Unplanned hospital readmissions result in inefficient use of health resources. Australia has used 28 days to measure unplanned readmissions. However, the 30-day measurement is commonly used in the literature. Only five Australian studies were identified with a focus on readmissions associated with specific paediatric health conditions. What does this paper add?: This is the first known study examining paediatric all-cause unplanned same-hospital readmissions in Western Australia. The study used both 28- and 30-day measures from discharge to unplanned readmission to allow international comparison. More than half the unplanned hospital readmissions occurred between Day 0 and Day 5 following discharge from the index admission. Time intervals from discharge date to readmission date varied for diagnosis-specific readmissions of paediatric patients. What are the implications for practitioners?: Targeting the top principal index admission diagnoses identified for paediatric readmissions is critical for improvement in the continuity of discharge care delivery, health resource utilisation and associated costs. Because 52% of unplanned readmissions occurred in the first 5 days, urgent investigation and implementation of prevention strategies are required, especially when the readmission occurs on the date of discharge.
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