Variation in hospital admission from the emergency department for children with cancer: A Pediatric Health Information System study

Emily L. Mueller, Seethal A. Jacob, Anneli R. Cochrane, Aaron E. Carroll, William E. Bennett

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Background: Children with cancer experience a wide range of conditions that require urgent evaluation in the emergency department (ED), yet variation in admission rates is poorly documented. Procedure: We performed a retrospective cohort study using the Pediatric Health Information System of ED encounters by children with cancer between July 2012 and June 2015. We compared demographics for admitted versus discharged using univariate statistics, and calculated admission rates by hospital, diagnosis, day of the week, and weekend versus weekday. We assessed the degree of interhospital admission rates using the index of dispersion (ID). Results: Children with cancer had 60 054 ED encounters at 37 hospitals. Overall, 62.5% were admitted (range 43.2%-92.1%, ID 2.6) indicating overdispersed admission rates with high variability. Children with cancer that visited the ED for a primary diagnosis of fever experienced the largest amount of variability in admission with rates ranging from 10.4% to 74.1% (ID 8.1). Less variability existed among hospital admission rates for both neutropenia (range 60%–100%, ID 1.0) and febrile neutropenia (FN) (range 66.7%-100%, ID 0.83). Admission rates by day of the week did not demonstrate significant variability for any of the scenarios examined (overall P = 0.91). There were no differences by weekend versus weekday either (overall P = 0.52). Conclusion: The percentage of children with cancer admitted through the ED varies widely by institution and diagnosis. Standardization of best practices for children with cancer admitted through the ED should be an area of continued improvement.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere28140
JournalPediatric Blood and Cancer
Issue number6
StateAccepted/In press - Jan 1 2020



  • outcomes research
  • pediatric oncology
  • support care

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Hematology
  • Oncology

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