Comparison of two European paediatric emergency departments: Does primary care organisation influence emergency attendance?

F. Poropat, P. Heinz, E. Barbi, A. Ventura

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Backround: To compare paediatric Emergency Department (ED) attendances and admission outcomes in two European hospitals with different paediatric primary care set-up. Methods: This is a retrospective prevalence study comparing all paediatric ED attendances during calendar years 2013 in two EDs with similar catchment area: one in Italy (Trieste) where paediatric primary care is provided by office paediatricians, the other, in the UK (Cambridge), where paediatric primary care is provided by general practitioners. Data on reason for presentation, discharge diagnosis and admission rate were collected and sub-group analysis for specific age groups (<1 year, 1-4 years, 5-15 years) was performed. Results: Over 12 months, 20.331 children (0-15 years old) were seen in Cambridge and 18.646 in Trieste, with a very similar age distribution in both centres, except for the youngest age group: the percentage of infants seen in comparison with the total number of children attending ED was 1/3 higher in England than in Italy (15.4% vs 11.4%). The reasons for attendance were similar: under 1 year of age, the chief complaints were fever, breathing difficulties and gastrointestinal problems while in the older age groups trauma represented the commonest reason. Among discharge diagnoses, no differences were found between the two hospitals, except for faltering growth and "well child", more frequently diagnosed in English children under 5 years. The proportion of admissions was three times higher in Cambridge (14.1% vs 4.8%) with most children being admitted for infectious diseases. Conclusions: ED attendances in infants are more common in a primary care setting provided by general practicioner and, moreover, admission rates in all age groups are 1/3 reduced by primary care based paediatricians. Due to the methodological limits of this study, it isn't possible to evaluate whether these results depend only on paediatric primary care set-up or be determined by other confounding factors. New studies are needed to confirm this preliminary evidence.

Original languageEnglish
Article number29
JournalItalian Journal of Pediatrics
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Mar 8 2017

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health


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