Unplanned admissions to a pediatric cardiac critical care unit: A review of 2 years' experience

Jamie S. Penk, Yue Hin Loke, Kevin R. Waloff, Lowell H. Frank, David C. Stockwell, Michael C. Spaeder, John T. Berger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


OBJECTIVES: Unplanned admissions to the pediatric cardiac ICU may be a large and high-risk group. Our study describes the frequency of unplanned pediatric cardiac ICU admissions, their admission data, and outcomes. DESIGN: All admissions to a pediatric cardiac ICU over 2 years were reviewed and those that were unplanned were identified for a detailed chart abstraction. Demographic, laboratory, diagnostic, and outcome data were collected. Readmission or admission for adverse event was noted. SETTING: Single, tertiary, pediatric cardiac center. PATIENTS: All patients admitted unexpectedly to the pediatric cardiac critical care unit between May 2008 and May 2010. INTERVENTIONS: None. MEASUREMENTS AND MAIN RESULTS: There were 1,203 admissions to the cardiac ICU, and 426 (35%) were unplanned. The most common reasons for admission were new heart disease (25%), infection (19%), arrhythmia (13%), and congestive heart failure (11%). The majority of unplanned admissions (62%) occurred at night. Shock was present at admission in 18.5% of patients. Structural heart disease was present in 79%, and 39% of those were patients with single ventricle. Overall mortality among unplanned admissions was 7.3%, which is higher than that reported for elective surgical admissions. Mortality for the subset of patients readmitted within 30 days was 5.5%. Mean creatinine at admission was higher among nonsurvivors (0.7) than survivors (0.5). CONCLUSIONS: Unplanned admissions accounted for over one third of all admissions and had a high mortality rate. The majority of these occur at night, which may affect staffing models. Acute deterioration leading to unplanned admission, rather than readmission status, may be the driving factor in increased mortality. However, the risk of readmission, lower renal function, or other indices may identify patients at higher risk of an unplanned admission. Continued efforts to identify patients at risk for unplanned admissions are warranted given the outcomes in this cohort.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)155-160
Number of pages6
JournalPediatric Critical Care Medicine
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 13 2015


  • cardiac intensive care unit
  • mortality
  • outcomes
  • pediatric critical care
  • readmissions
  • unplanned admissions

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Critical Care and Intensive Care Medicine


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