Do children with neurological disabilities use more inpatient resources: an observational study

Jin-Xi Yuan, Marian McGowan, Irene Hadjikoumi, Buddhi Pant
Emerging Themes in Epidemiology 2017, 14: 5

BACKGROUND: Advances in healthcare have improved the survival of children with neurological disabilities (ND). Studies in the US have shown that children with ND use a substantial proportion of resources in children's hospitals, however, little research has been conducted in the UK. We aimed to test the hypothesis that children with neurological disabilities use more inpatient resources than children without neurological disabilities, and to quantify any significant differences in resource use.

METHODS: A retrospective observational study was conducted, looking at the number of hospital admissions, total inpatient days and the reason for admissions for paediatric inpatients from January 1st to March 31st 2015. Inpatients were assigned into one of three groups: children without ND, children with one ND, and children with more than one ND.

RESULTS: The sample population included 942 inpatients (mean age 6y 6mo). Children with at least one ND accounted for 15.3% of the inpatients, 17.7% of total hospital inpatient admission episodes, and 27.8% of the total inpatients days. Neurological disability had a statistically significant effect on total hospital admissions (p < 0.001). Neurological disability also had a statistically significant effect on total inpatient days (p < 0.001). Neurological disability increased the length of inpatient stay across medicine, specialties, and surgery.

CONCLUSIONS: Children with ND had more frequent hospital admission episode and longer inpatient stays. We identified a smaller group within this population, with arguably more complex neurological disabilities, children with more than one ND. This group had the highest number of admissions and longest inpatient stays. More frequent hospital admissions and longer inpatient stays may place children with ND at greater risk of the adverse effects of hospitalisations. We recommend further investigations looking at each the effects of the different categories of ND on inpatient resource use, and repeat of this study at a national level and over a longer period of time.

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