Pandemic-Related Shifts in New Patients Admitted to Children's Hospitals.

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DOI: 10.1542/hpeds.2021-005876


OBJECTIVES: During the coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic, professional organizations recommended preferential transfer of pediatric patients from general hospitals to children's hospitals. Patients previously receiving all care at other facilities would be new to children's hospitals. As a proxy for care consolidation, we sought to describe changes in new patient encounters at children's hospitals and test associations between local severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) incidences and new patient encounters.

METHODS: This retrospective cohort study included patients aged 6 months to 18 years admitted to children's hospitals from March 15, 2019, to June 30, 2019 (control) and 2020 (pandemic period). Primary outcome was odds ratio of being a new versus established patient by study period. Generalized linear models estimated odds of being a new patient with adjustment for diagnosis. Analyses were also stratified by local SARS-CoV-2 transmission.

RESULTS: There were 205 283 encounters (45.3% new patients). New patients were more common in the pandemic period than in the control (46.4 vs 44.7%, OR 1.07, 95% confidence interval [CI]: 1.05 to 1.09). After adjusting for diagnosis, pandemic new patients were no more common than control new patients (adjusted odds ratio 1.00, 95% CI: 0.98 to 1.02). Compared with hospitals experiencing low local SARS-CoV-2 transmission, admission encounters at both medium and high transmission hospitals were more likely to be new (adjusted odds ratio 1.08, 95% CI: 1.03 to 1.14 and 1.09, 95% CI: 1.03 to 1.15, respectively).

CONCLUSIONS: During the early coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic, proportional increases in new patients to children's hospitals appeared to be due to changes in diagnoses but were also associated with local SARS-CoV-2 transmission. Pediatric care consolidation may have occurred; how this may have impacted outcomes for hospitalized children is unclear.

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Hosp Pediatr





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MeSH Keywords

COVID-19; Child; Hospitals, Pediatric; Humans; Pandemics; Retrospective Studies; SARS-CoV-2


COVID-19; Pediatric Hospitals; Pandemics; Retrospective Studies; SARS-CoV-2

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