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Socio-economic composition of low-acuity paediatric presentation at a regional hospital emergency department

journal contribution
posted on 2021-03-03, 03:22 authored by FO Alele, EJ Callander, TI Emeto, Jane MillsJane Mills, K Watt
© 2018 Paediatrics and Child Health Division (The Royal Australasian College of Physicians) Aim: Despite increasing rates of emergency department (ED) utilisation, little is known about low-acuity presentations in children ≤5 years. The aims of the study were to estimate the proportion and cost of low-acuity presentations in children ≤5 years presenting to the ED and to determine the relative effect of socio-economic status (SES) on paediatric low-acuity presentations at the ED. Methods: This is a retrospective observational study of children ≤5 years presenting to the Cairns Hospital ED over 4 years. A multivariate logistic regression model was used to assess the association between SES and low-acuity presentations. Cost of low-acuity presentations was calculated based on triage score and admission status, using costs obtained from the National Hospital Cost Data Collection. Results: A total of 23 086 children were included in the study, of whom 56.7% were male (mean age = 1.85 ± 1.63 years). Approximately one-third of ED visits were low-acuity presentations (32.4%), and low-acuity presentations increased progressively with SES. In multivariate analysis, children from families with very high SES were twice as likely to have a low-acuity presentation (odds ratio 2.17; 95% confidence interval, 1.66–2.85). Low-acuity ED presentations cost the health-care system in excess of A$895 000–A$1 110 000 per year. Conclusions: These findings demonstrate that a significant proportion of paediatric ED visits are of low acuity and that these visits yield a substantial cost to the health system. Further research is required regarding care givers' rationale and potentially other reasons underlying these low-acuity ED presentations.


Publication Date



Journal of Paediatrics and Child Health






(p. 1341-1347)





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