Hospital resources put to the test caring for children with medically complex conditions

The number of children with complex medical conditions is growing, and putting some strains on hospital resources, reported Kaiser Health News.

According to the Children's Hospital Association, the number of children in the U.S. with complex medical conditions such as cystic fibrosis, muscular dystrophy and cerebral palsy is growing at about 6 percent annually. Many of these kids require numerous hospital admissions as part of their course of care.

Katie Doderer, who suffers from a rare disorder known as congenital central hyopventilation syndrome, racked up $1 million in medical bills during her first year of life, and another $75,000 a year for a night nurse. Although her mother is the CEO of the Arkansas Children's Hospital, Medicaid picks up the bill through a special program that supplements private health insurance.

According to Kaiser, the Medicaid program spends 40 percent of its funds on the tens of millions children it covers on the sickest 2 million of them. And hospitals can be ill-suited to treat such patients; a facility in Chicago provides some of the best care for Katie Doderer's condition, but it doesn't accept her Medicaid coverage. Care for such children is often ill-coordinated between providers, and it is wasting money.

Moreover, some children may be misplaced. Several nursing homes in Florida are closing their pediatric wings due to reports of their warehousing children, reported the Bradenton Herald.

According to the Children's Hospital Association, improved coordination of care for medically complex pediatric patients could save $13 billion over the next decade, Kaiser reported. But initiating such a program could come at a cost for other Medicaid recipients.

To learn more:
- read the Kaiser Health News article
- here's the Bradenton Herald article