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Most Kids Treated at Non-Children's Hospitals

Pediatric resources may be lower at generalist centers, researchers warn

SUNDAY, May 15, 2005 (HealthDay News) -- Non-specialized hospitals in the United States handle far more children's admissions than children's hospitals that feature pediatric expertise, according to the results of a new study.

"While our results do not assess quality of care, we hypothesize that non-children's hospitals may be under-resourced in pediatric expertise while providing an excess of care for the poor and for mental health conditions," study author Dr. Richard Wasserman, professor of pediatrics at the University of Vermont, said in a prepared statement.

The researchers analyzed data from the 2000 Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project Kids' Inpatient Database.

They found that in the year 2000, children's hospitals handled about a third of the 1.7 million hospitalizations involving children -- in fact, with 64.4 percent of hospitalizations for children ages 1 to 17 occurring at non-children's hospitals. More than 1 in 20 of those hospitalizations was for a mental health admission, the researchers add.

Compared to children's hospitals, non-children's hospitals had many more discharges for 15- to 17-year-old females, patients from low-income areas and uninsured patients, the Vermont group noted.

"This study is the first detailed look at this set of issues, providing a picture of different institutional burdens," said Wasserman, who presented the findings Sunday at the annual meeting of the Pediatric Academic Societies, in Washington, D.C.

More information

The Nemours Foundation has information for parents about preparing their children for hospital admission or surgery.

SOURCE: University of Vermont, news release, May 15, 2005
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