Profiling Pediatric Potentially Avoidable Transfers Using Procedure and Diagnosis Codes

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OBJECTIVES: While hospital-hospital transfers of pediatric patients are often necessary, some pediatric transfers are potentially avoidable. Pediatric potentially avoidable transfers (PATs) represent a process with high costs and safety risks but few, if any, benefits. To better understand this issue, we described pediatric interfacility transfers with early discharges. METHODS: We conducted a descriptive study using electronic medical record data at a single-center over a 12-month period to examine characteristics of pediatric patients with a transfer admission source and early discharge. Among patients with early discharges, we performed descriptive statistics for PATs defined as patient transfers with a discharge home within 24 hours without receiving any specialized procedures or diagnoses. RESULTS: Of the 2,415 pediatric transfers, 31.4% were discharged home within 24 hours. Among transferred patients with early discharges, 356 patients (14.7% of total patient transfers) received no specialized procedures or diagnoses. Direct admissions were categorized as PATs 1.9-fold more frequently than transfers arriving to the emergency department. Among transferred direct admissions, PAT proportions to the neonatal intensive care unit (ICU), pediatric ICU, and non-ICU were 5.1%, 17.3%, and 27.3%, respectively. Respiratory infections, asthma, and ill-defined conditions (eg, fever, nausea with vomiting) were the most common PAT diagnoses. CONCLUSIONS: Early discharges and PATs are relatively common among transferred pediatric patients. Further studies are needed to identify the etiologies and clinical impacts of PATs, with a focus on direct admissions given the high frequency of PATs among direct admissions to both the pediatric ICU and non-ICU.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)e750-e756
JournalPediatric emergency care
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 1 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Emergency Medicine


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