Hospital Utilization and Characteristics of Patients Experiencing Recurrent Readmissions Within Children's Hospitals

Jay G. Berry, David E. Hall, Dennis Z. Kuo, Eyal Cohen, Rishi Agrawal, Chris Feudtner, Matt Hall, Jacqueline Kueser, William Kaplan, John Neff

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

308 Scopus citations


Context: Early hospital readmission is emerging as an indicator of care quality. Some children with chronic illnesses may be readmitted on a recurrent basis, but there are limited data describing their rehospitalization patterns and impact. Objectives: To describe the inpatient resource utilization, clinical characteristics, and admission reasons of patients recurrently readmitted to children's hospitals. Design, Setting, and Patients: Retrospective cohort analysis of 317 643 patients (n=579 504 admissions) admitted to 37 US children's hospitals in 2003 with follow-up through 2008. Main Outcome Measure: Maximum number of readmissions experienced by each child within any 365-day interval during the 5-year follow-up period. Results: In the sample, 69 294 patients (21.8%) experienced at least 1 readmission within 365 days of a prior admission. Within a 365-day interval, 9237 patients (2.9%) experienced 4 or more readmissions; time between admissions was a median 37 days (interquartile range [IQR], 21-63). These patients accounted for 18.8% (109 155 admissions) of all admissions and 23.2% ($3.4 billion) of total inpatient charges for the study cohort during the entire follow-up period. Tests for trend indicated that as the number of readmissions increased from 0 to 4 or more, the prevalences increased for a complex chronic condition (from 22.3% [n=55 382/248 349] to 89.0% [n=8225/9237]; P<.001), technology assistance (from 5.3% [n=13 163] to 52.6% [n=4859]; P<.001), public insurance use (from 40.9% [n=101 575] to 56.3% [n=5202]; P<.001), and non-Hispanic black race (from 21.8% [n=54 140] to 34.4% [n=3181]; P<.001); and the prevalence decreased for readmissions associated with an ambulatory care-sensitive condition (from 23.1% [62 847/272 065] to 14.0% [15 282/109 155], P<.001). Of patients readmitted 4 or more times in a 365-day interval, 2633 (28.5%) were rehospitalized for a problem in the same organ system across all admissions during the interval. Conclusions: Among a group of pediatric hospitals, 18.8% of admissions and 23.2% of inpatient charges were accounted for by the 2.9% of patients with frequent recurrent admissions. Many of these patients were rehospitalized recurrently for a problem in the same organ system.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)682-690
Number of pages9
JournalJAMA - Journal of the American Medical Association
Issue number7
StatePublished - Feb 16 2011

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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