Emergent Care Patterns in Patients with Spina Bifida: A Case-Control Study

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Abstract

Purpose:

Individuals with spina bifida are typically followed closely as outpatients by multidisciplinary teams. However, emergent care of these patients is not well defined. We describe patterns of emergent care in patients with spina bifida and healthy controls.

Materials and Methods:

We reviewed Nationwide Emergency Department Sample data from 2006 to 2010. Subjects without spina bifida (controls) were selected from the sample using stratified random sampling and matched to each case by age, gender and treatment year at a 1:4 ratio. Missing emergency department charges were estimated by multiple imputation. Statistical analyses were performed to compare patterns of care among emergency department visits and charges.

Results:

A total of 226,709 patients with spina bifida and 888,774 controls were identified. Mean age was 28.2 years, with 34.6% of patients being younger than 21. Patients with spina bifida were more likely than controls to have public insurance (63.7% vs 35.4%, p <0.001) and to be admitted to the hospital from the emergency department (37.0% vs 9.2%, p <0.001). Urinary tract infections were the single most common acute diagnosis in patients with spina bifida seen emergently (OR 8.7, p <0.001), followed by neurological issues (OR 2.0, p <0.001). Urological issues were responsible for 34% of total emergency department charges. Mean charges per encounter were significantly higher in spina bifida cases vs controls ($2,102 vs $1,650, p <0.001), as were overall charges for patients subsequently admitted from emergent care ($36,356 vs $29,498, p <0.001).

Conclusions:

Compared to controls, patients with spina bifida presenting emergently are more likely to have urological or neurosurgical problems, to undergo urological or neurosurgical procedures, to be admitted from the emergency department and to incur higher associated charges.

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