OBJECTIVES:

We aimed to characterize the demographics, diagnoses, and management of transferred patients who were directly discharged from the emergency department (ED) or admitted less than 24 hours.

METHODS:

We conducted a retrospective, cross-sectional study of patients classified as interfacility ED transfers over a 12-month period in the Pediatric Health Information System database, an administrative database of 42 tertiary care pediatric US hospitals. The primary study outcomes were ED resource utilization at the receiving facility with a focus on children who were discharged directly from the ED or admitted less than 24 hours.

RESULTS:

Overall, 24 905 interfacility transfers were identified, accounting for 1.3% of the ED volume of these academic pediatric centers. Of these, 24.7% were discharged directly from the ED and 17.0% were admitted for less than 24 hours. Among those directly discharged from the ED, the 3 most common complaints were orthopedic problems, nonsurgical abdominal pain, and viral gastroenteritis; 20.7% received no medical or procedural intervention. Among those admitted for less than 24 hours, the 3 most common complaints were orthopedic problems, traumatic head injury, and gastrointestinal conditions.

CONCLUSIONS:

A significant proportion of interfacility transfers to academic pediatric EDs is discharged directly from the ED or is admitted for less than a day. These patients and their clinical outcomes provide insight into the educational needs and medical capabilities of referring hospitals and clinicians.

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