Boarding Admitted Children in the Emergency Department Impacts Inpatient Outcomes

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Abstract

Objective

This study aimed to assess the relationship between boarding of admitted children in the emergency department (ED) and cost, inpatient length of stay (LOS), mortality, and readmission.

Methods

This was a retrospective study of 1,792 pediatric inpatients admitted through the ED and discharged from the hospital between February 20, 2007 and June 30, 2008 at a major teaching hospital with an annual ED volume of 40,000 adult and pediatric patients.

Methods

The main predictor variable was boarding time (time from admission decision to departure for an inpatient bed, in hours). Covariates were patient age, payer group, times of ED and inpatient bed arrival, ED triage acuity, type of inpatient service, intensive care unit admission, surgery, and severity of inpatient illness. The main outcome measures, cost (dollars) and inpatient LOS (hours), were log-transformed and analyzed using linear regressions. Secondary outcomes, mortality and readmission to the hospital within 72 hours of discharge, were analyzed using logistic regression.

Results

Mean ED LOS for admitted patients was 9.0 hours. Mean boarding time was 5.1 hours. Mean cost and inpatient LOS were $9893 and 147 hours, respectively. In general, boarding time was associated with cost (P < 0.001) and inpatient LOS (P = 0.01) but not with mortality or readmission. Longer boarding times were associated with greater inpatient LOS especially among patients triaged as low acuity (P = 0.008). In addition, longer boarding times were associated with greater probability of being readmitted among patients on surgical services (P = 0.01).

Conclusions

Among low-acuity and surgical patients, longer boarding times were associated with longer inpatient LOS and more readmissions, respectively.

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