Hospital Inpatient Use in Mainland Portugal by Children with Complex Chronic Conditions (2011 – 2015)
Keywords:Child, Hospitalization, Needs Assessment, Palliative Care, Portugal
Introduction: Due to epidemiological change, interest in complex chronic conditions has been increasing within the pediatric health system. As such, we aim to evaluate hospital inpatient care in the National Health Service (mainland Portugal) by pediatric patients (0 – 17 years) with complex chronic conditions.
Material and Methods: Observational longitudinal retrospective epidemiological study using anonymized administrative data. We selected hospitalizations within the pediatric age limit, 2011 – 2015; healthy newborns and radiotherapy outpatients were excluded. A descriptive analysis of the admissions with complex chronic conditions was analysed by number of complex chronic conditions categories and by complex chronic conditions categories. Non-parametric tests were applied to length of stay, expense, and mortality.
Results: Out of 419 927 admissions, 64 918 (15.5%) contained at least one complex chronic conditions code. These admissions due to complex chronic conditions represented 29.8% of hospital days, 39.4% of expense and 87.2% of deaths. Compared to those without complex chronic conditions, expense was double (median €1467 vs €745) and mortality 40 times higher (2.4% vs 0.06%). Of these, 46% were planned (no complex chronic conditions 23.2%); 64.8% occurred in group III – IV hospitals (no complex chronic conditions 27.1%). Malignant was the most frequent category (23.0%); neonatal had the highest median length of stay (12 days, 6 – 41), median expense (€3568,929 – 24 602), and number of deaths (43.5% of total).
Discussion: As in other developed countries where the number of pediatric admissions is decreasing, in mainland Portugal we found an increase in the proportion of complex chronic conditions admissions, which are longer, costlier and deadlier (trends intensified in the presence of two or more complex chronic conditions categories).
Conclusion: Complex chronic conditions are relevant in the activity and costs regarding pediatric hospitalizations in mainland Portugal. Recognizing this and integrating pediatric palliative care from the moment of diagnosis are essential to promote appropriate hospital use, through the development of effective and sustainable alternatives that meet the needs of children, families, and healthcare professionals.
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