Connecting Hospital to Home: Characteristics of and Rehospitalization Rates in Hospitalized Children With Private-Duty Nursing


Children with medical complexity are frequently hospitalized and have extensive health care needs. Private-duty nursing (PDN) is a service on which some children with medical complexity rely to live at home, but little is known about patients discharged with PDN. Our objective for this study was to describe the characteristics and longitudinal outcomes of patients with PDN who are hospitalized.


This study was a 1-year retrospective study of patients receiving PDN who were hospitalized at a quaternary freestanding children’s hospital; there was an additional 2-year follow-up. Patient characteristics, rehospitalization rates, length of stay, mortality, and hospital charges were identified. Descriptive statistics were performed to characterize trends, and a time-to-event analysis was used to characterize unplanned rehospitalization.


Among 8187 unique patients who were hospitalized in the initial study year (June 1, 2014 to –May 31, 2015), 188 patients (2%) used PDN. Of patients using PDN, 94% used gastrointestinal devices. The median index length of stay was 4 days (interquartile range 2–6). Two-year mortality was 12%. Cumulative all-cause rehospitalization rates were 18% by 30 days, 62% by 365 days, and 87% within 2 years; the median rehospitalization frequency was 3 per patient. The most common reasons for unplanned rehospitalization were infection (41%) and device complication (10%). During the study period, 11% of both rehospitalizations and total hospital days were attributed to patients with PDN. Unplanned rehospitalizations of patients with PDN accounted for $117 million in hospital charges.


One in 50 patients hospitalized at a single center were discharged with PDN, which accounted for a disproportionate level of hospital use. Future research should be used to address whether the access and quality of PDN may impact rehospitalization.

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