Observation-status patients in children's hospitals with and without dedicated observation units in 2011.

Year of Publication


Number of Pages


Date Published


ISSN Number



<p><strong>BACKGROUND: </strong>Pediatric observation units (OUs) have demonstrated reductions in lengths of stay (LOS) and costs of care. Hospital-level outcomes across all observation-status stays have not been evaluated in relation to the presence of a dedicated OU in the hospital.</p>

<p><strong>OBJECTIVE: </strong>To compare observation-status stay outcomes in hospitals with and without a dedicated OU.</p>

<p><strong>DESIGN: </strong>Cross-sectional analysis of hospital administrative data.</p>

<p><strong>METHODS: </strong>Observation-status stay outcomes were compared in hospitals with and without a dedicated OU across 4 categories: (1) LOS, (2) standardized costs, (3) conversion to inpatient status, and (4) return care.</p>

<p><strong>SETTING/PATIENTS: </strong>Observation-status stays in 31 free-standing children's hospitals contributing observation patient data to the Pediatric Health Information System database, 2011.</p>

<p><strong>RESULTS: </strong>Fifty-one percent of the 136,239 observation-status stays in 2011 occurred in 14 hospitals with a dedicated OU; the remainder were in 17 hospitals without. The percentage of observation-status same-day discharges was higher in hospitals with a dedicated OU compared with hospitals without (23.8 vs 22.1, P &lt; 0.001), but risk-adjusted LOS in hours and total standardized costs were similar. Conversion to inpatient status was higher in hospitals with a dedicated OU (11.06%) compared with hospitals without (9.63%, P &lt; 0.01). Adjusted odds of return visits and readmissions were comparable.</p>

<p><strong>CONCLUSIONS: </strong>The presence of a dedicated OU appears to have an influence on same-day and morning discharges across all observation-status stays without impacting other hospital-level outcomes. Inclusion of location of care (eg, dedicated OU, inpatient unit, emergency department) in hospital administrative datasets would allow for more meaningful comparisons of models of hospital care.</p>



Alternate Title

J Hosp Med




Subscription is not available for this page.