Diagnostic Testing and Hospital Outcomes of Children with Neurologic Impairment and Bacterial Pneumonia

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To assess hospital-level variability in diagnostic testing and outcomes for children with neurologic impairment hospitalized with pneumonia.

Study design

A retrospective cohort study of 27 455 children ages 1-18 years with neurologic impairment hospitalized with pneumonia at 39 children's hospitals. K-means clustering was used to assign each hospital to 1 of 3 groups (termed A, B, and C) based on similar diagnostic testing patterns. Outcomes of hospital-level median length of stay (LOS), 30-day readmissions, and pneumonia-associated complications were compared while controlling for patient differences.


Overall, 48.5% had comorbid complex chronic conditions, and 25.4% were assisted with medical technology. Outcomes and diagnostic testing varied across hospitals: median hospital-level LOS, 3.2 days (IQR 2.8-3.8); median readmission, 8.4% (IQR 6.8,-10.0); and median pneumonia-associated complication rate, 23.1% (IQR 18.7-26.8). Despite similar populations, hospitals in group A tended to perform fewer tests than those in groups B and C. Across hospital groups, there was a significant difference in adjusted readmission rates (group A 7.2%, group B 9.0%, group C 7.7%, P = .003). There was no significant difference in adjusted median LOS (group A 3.4 days, group B 3.2 days, group C 3.3 days, P = .3) or adjusted pneumonia-associated complication rates (group A 22.5%, group B 22.5%, group C 25.0%, P = .6).


For children with neurologic impairment hospitalized with pneumonia, across hospital differences in diagnostic testing were not associated with clinically meaningful differences in outcomes. High-utilizing hospitals may be able to decrease diagnostic testing for children with neurologic impairment hospitalized with pneumonia without adversely impacting outcomes.

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