• Matern Child Health J · Feb 2016

    Do Children with Autism Overutilize the Emergency Department? Examining Visit Urgency and Subsequent Hospital Admissions.

    • Alexis Deavenport-Saman, Yang Lu, Kathryn Smith, and Larry Yin.
    • Department of Pediatrics, Children's Hospital Los Angeles, 4650 Sunset Boulevard, #76, Los Angeles, CA, 90027, USA. adeavenportsaman@chla.usc.edu.
    • Matern Child Health J. 2016 Feb 1; 20 (2): 306-14.

    BackgroundChildren with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) are more likely to have difficulties accessing health care compared to other children with special health care needs. National data based on parent report indicate that children with ASD are overutilizing emergency department (ED) services, but data on actual ED use has been limited to children with psychiatric diagnoses. This study examined factors associated with ED utilization (rate, urgency, and hospital admissions) among children with ASD compared to those without ASD.MethodsData from an urban, tertiary children's hospital level 1 trauma center were examined retrospectively 2006-2009. Anderson's model of health services utilization served as the study framework. The NYU ED algorithm was used to predict nonurgent visits. Multivariate linear and logistic regression analyses were performed on the rate, urgency, and subsequent hospital admissions of these ED visits.ResultsThere were 115,443 children 2-21 years old, accounting for a total of 157,902 visits. The top three reasons for visiting the ED for children with and without ASD were acute upper respiratory infections, viral infections and otitis media. Children with ASD had on average 0.26 more ED visits annually than children without ASD (p < 0.01) and were 2.6 % points more likely to have nonurgent visits; p < 0.01). Their visits were also less likely to result in hospital admissions (OR 0. 61; p < 0.01).ConclusionsExamination of predisposing, enabling, and reinforcing factors suggest that children with ASD were more likely to visit the ED and for nonurgent reasons.

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