Variation in Risk-Adjusted Hospital Readmission After Treatment of Appendicitis at 38 Children's Hospitals: An Opportunity for Collaborative Quality Improvement

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To identify risk factors associated with readmission for children treated with appendicitis, and to characterize variation in risk-adjusted readmission rates between children's hospitals.

Background Data:

Hospital readmission has been increasingly targeted as a marker for quality of care, yet little is known regarding risk factors associated with readmission or the degree of performance variation that exists between hospitals for this cohort of patients.


Retrospective cohort study of 47,866 patients treated at 38 children's hospitals (2006–2010). Multivariate regression was used to examine and adjust for the influence of risk factors on 30-day readmission rates. Hospitals were considered performance outliers if their readmission rate and 95% confidence interval (CI) did not include the overall rate.


Factors associated with readmission included disease severity [high vs. low: odds ratio (OR) 4.57, 95% CI: 3.72–5.60; moderate vs. low: OR 2.29, 95% CI: 2.00–2.61] and insurance status (public vs. private: OR 1.14, 95% CI: 1.0–1.29). After adjustment for these factors, the relative decile-based performance rankings changed for 17 (45%) of the 38 hospitals and six (16%) hospitals changed the outlier status based on their standardized readmission rates. A 3.8-fold variation in standardized readmission rates was found across the 38 hospitals after adjustment (overall rate: 8.9%, range: 4.1%–15.4%, P < 0.0001), and 24 (63%) hospitals were identified as outliers (12 low performers and 12 high performers).


Significant variation in risk-adjusted readmission rates exists among children's hospitals after treatment of appendicitis, and outliers can be identified at both ends of the performance spectrum. These findings may have important implications for the identification and dissemination of “best practices” from exemplar hospitals.

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