Study: Crowding may increase hosp. stay for some children

A new study suggests that if the hospital is crowded on the day a child is admitted, that child may be in for a longer stay if he or she has a less-complicated illness that requires ongoing monitoring. While crowding doesn't affect lengths of stay for children with serious, complex conditions--like bacterial meningitis--children with respiratory conditions may see an impact, according to researchers with The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. And this has a big impact, since respiratory conditions are the most common reason for pediatric hospitalizations, the authors said.

To draw this conclusion, researchers looked at all children admitted to 323 hospitals in Pennsylvania and New York between April 1996 and June 1998 with one of 19 common pediatric conditions. Researchers found that for children admitted with diseases like viral and bacterial pneumonia, asthma and bronchitis, admission day occupancy above 60 percent resulted in a 25-day increase in the average length of stay per 100 patients. This is a concern, given that the average occupancy for hospitals studied was 75 percent. 

Researchers theorize that the need for frequent monitoring can strain the resources of hospitals already near-capacity, and with caregivers stressed, children's care isn't as efficient.

To learn more about this study:
- read this press release

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