Original Research

Transitioning from General Pediatric to Adult-Oriented Inpatient Care: National Survey of US Children’s Hospitals

Abstract

BACKGROUND: Hospital charges and lengths of stay may be greater when adults with chronic conditions are admitted to children’s hospitals. Despite multiple efforts to improve pediatric-adult healthcare transitions, little guidance exists for transitioning inpatient care.

OBJECTIVE: This study sought to characterize pediatric-adult inpatient care transitions across general pediatric services at US children’s hospitals.

DESIGN, SETTING, AND PARTICIPANTS: National survey of inpatient general pediatric service leaders at US children’s hospitals from January 2016 to July 2016.

MEASUREMENTS: Questionnaires assessed institutional characteristics, presence of inpatient transition initiatives (having specific process and/or leader), and 22 inpatient transition activities. Scales of highly correlated activities were created using exploratory factor analysis. Logistic regression identified associations between institutional characteristics, transition activities, and presence of an inpatient transition initiative.

RESULTS: Ninety-six of 195 children’s hospitals responded (49.2% response rate). Transition initiatives were present at 38% of children’s hospitals, more often when there were dual-trained internal medicine–pediatrics providers or outpatient transition processes. Specific activities were infrequent and varied widely from 2.1% (systems to track youth in transition) to 40.5% (addressing potential insurance problems). Institutions with initiatives more often consistently performed the majority of activities, including using checklists and creating patient-centered transition care plans. Of remaining activities, half involved transition planning, the essential step between readiness and transfer.

CONCLUSIONS: Relatively few inpatient general pediatric services at US children’s hospitals have leaders or dedicated processes to shepherd transitions to adult-oriented inpatient care. Across institutions, there is a wide variability in performance of activities to facilitate this transition. Feasible process and outcome measures are needed.

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