BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVE:

Lower respiratory infections (LRIs) are among the most common reasons for pediatric hospitalization and among the diagnoses with the highest number of readmissions. Characterizing LRI readmissions would help guide efforts to prevent them. We assessed variation in pediatric LRI readmission rates, risk factors for readmission, and readmission diagnoses.

METHODS:

We analyzed 2008–2009 Medicaid Analytic eXtract data for patients <18 years of age in 26 states. We identified LRI hospitalizations based on a primary diagnosis of bronchiolitis, influenza, or community-acquired pneumonia or a secondary diagnosis of one of these LRIs plus a primary diagnosis of asthma, respiratory failure, or sepsis/bacteremia. Readmission rates were calculated as the proportion of hospitalizations followed by ≥1 unplanned readmission within 30 days. We used logistic regression with fixed effects for patient characteristics and a hospital random intercept to case-mix adjust rates and assess risk factors.

RESULTS:

Of 150 590 LRI hospitalizations, 8233 (5.5%) were followed by ≥1 readmission. The median adjusted hospital readmission rate was 5.2% (interquartile range: 5.1%–5.4%), and rates varied across hospitals (P < .0001). Infants (patients <1 year of age), boys, and children with chronic conditions were more likely to be readmitted. The most common primary diagnoses on readmission were LRIs (48.2%), asthma (10.0%), fluid/electrolyte disorders (3.4%), respiratory failure (3.3%), and upper respiratory infections (2.7%).

CONCLUSIONS:

LRI readmissions are common and vary across hospitals. Multiple risk factors are associated with readmission, indicating potential targets for strategies to reduce readmissions. Readmission diagnoses sometimes seem related to the original LRI.

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