Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Rural children more likely to be readmitted to hospitals, have more complex chronic conditions

Rural children are more likely than their urban counterparts to be readmitted to hospitals within 30 days, says a study by researchers at Yale University published in Pediatrics. The study, which analyzed 672,190 admissions to 41 children's hospitals in 2012, also found that rural children traveled, on average, 68 miles to a hospital, compared to 12 miles for non-rural children; were more likely to live in low-income households (53 percent to 24 percent); and 20 percent of rural children lived in areas with doctor shortages, compared to 4 percent of non-rural children. The average hospital stay for rural children cost about $8,507, compared to $7,814 for non-rural children. (Yale map: Percentage of discharges from children’s hospitals to rural areas and rural HPSAs by hospital)
Rural children are more likely to suffer from complex medical conditions—44 percent to 37 percent, says the study. "Complex medical conditions treated at children's hospitals include heart problems, congenital heart disease, cystic fibrosis, Down syndrome and various lifelong health challenges caused by prematurity, according to the Children's Hospital Association," Steven Reinberg reports for HealthDay. Lead researcher, Dr. Alon Peltz said "greater coordination of services provided by community and pediatric hospitals would help." He told Reinberg, "This may include better use of technologies, such as telemedicine, or policies that support better integration between children's hospitals and rural doctors and community hospitals."

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