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Hospitalized Children Have Increasingly Complex Illnesses

These children utilize more hospital technology-assisted resources, have increasing costs

TUESDAY, Sept. 21 (HealthDay News) -- Medically complex children with one or more chronic diseases make up an increasing proportion of pediatric hospital admissions and account for increased use of hospital resources, according to research published online Sept. 20 in Pediatrics.

Katherine H. Burns, M.D., of the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences in Little Rock, and colleagues used national data to determine changes in the prevalence of hospital admissions for medically complex children -- those with one or more complex chronic conditions (CCCs) -- from 1991 to 2005. The researchers noted consistent increases in hospitalization rates for children with diagnoses in multiple CCC categories, but stable hospitalization rates for children with cerebral palsy alone, leading them to conclude that the medical complexity of hospitalized children has increased over the past 15 years.

Tamara D. Simon, M.D., of the University of Utah in Salt Lake City, and colleagues conducted a retrospective observational study using Kids Inpatient Databases to examine medical complexity in pediatric hospitalizations in the United States. Hospitalizations for CCC-associated indications accounted for 22.7 to 26.1 percent of pediatric hospital days, 37.1 to 40.6 percent of pediatric hospital charges, 41.9 to 43.2 percent of deaths, and, for 2006, 73 to 92 percent of technology-assisted procedures.

"Simon et al and Burns et al have provided a clarion call to the pediatric health care community that will require pediatric care providers, health care policy makers and payers, patients, and families to work cooperatively to develop systems of high-quality, cost-efficient, comprehensive, coordinated, and patient- and family-centered inpatient and outpatient care for this growing population of children and youth with complex medical conditions," write the authors of an accompanying editorial.

Abstract - Burns
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Abstract - Simon
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