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Our objectives were to describe disposition decisions and emergency department return (EDR) rates following a clinical decision unit (CDU) stay; and to determine changes to short stay (<48 hour) hospitalization rates after CDU implementation.
We conducted a retrospective cohort study of pediatric emergency department (PED) visits with a CDU stay from January 1 to December 31, 2015. Health records data were extracted onto standardized online forms, then used to determine disposition and 7-day EDR rates. Two trained investigators blindly reviewed EDR visits to determine if they were related to the index CDU stay. We compared short stay inpatient admission rates (i.e., hospital length of stay <48 hours) in 2013 and 2015, before and after CDU implementation.
Of 1696 index CDU stays, 1503 (89%) were discharged, and 139 discharged patients (9.2%) had ≥1 clinically-related EDR. Median (IQR) CDU length of stay (LOS) was 4.4 hours (2.7-7.8) and total PED LOS (including CDU) was 7.8 hours (5.4-12.0). Asthma represented 31% of cases. Short stay hospitalization rate decreased from 3.62% in 2013 to 3.23% in 2015 (difference=0.39%; 95% CI=0.15-0.63; p=0.001).
Most CDU patients were discharged, but 9% had a clinically-related ED revisit. CDU implementation was associated with a small but significant reduction in short stay hospitalization.
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