Objective To explore the risk factors for ward and paediatric assessment unit (PAU) admissions from the emergency department (ED).
Design Prospective observational study.
Setting and patients Febrile children attending a large tertiary care ED during the winter of 2014–2015.
Main outcome measures Ward and PAU admissions, National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) guidelines classification, reattendance to the ED within 28 days and antibiotic use.
Results A total of 1097 children attending the children's ED with fever were analysed. Risk factors for PAU admission were tachycardia (RR=1.1, 95% CI (1 to 1.1)), ill-appearance (RR=2.2, 95% CI (1.2 to 4.2)), abnormal chest findings (RR=2.1, 95% CI (1.2 to 4.3)), categorised as NICE amber (RR 1.7 95% CI (1.2 to 2.5)). There was a 30% discordance between NICE categorisation at triage and statistical internal validation. Predictors of ward admission were a systemic (RR=6.9, 95% CI (2.4 to 19.8)) or gastrointestinal illness (RR=3.8, 95% (1.4 to 10.4)) and categorised as NICE Red (RR=5.9, 95% CI (2.2 to 15.3)). Only 51 children had probable bacterial pneumonia (4.6%), 52 children had a proven urinary tract infection (4.2%), with just 2 (0.2%) positive blood cultures out of 485 (44%) children who received an antibiotic. 15% of all children reattended by 28 days and were more likely to have been categorised as Amber and had investigations on initial visit.
Conclusions Risk factors for PAU and ward admissions are different in this setting with high reattendance rates and very low proportion of confirmed/probable serious bacterial infections. Future studies need to focus on reducing avoidable admissions and antibiotic treatment.
- Accident & Emergency
- General Paediatrics
- Health services research
- Infectious Diseases
- Outcomes research
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