Pediatrics

Associations Between Social Factor Documentation and Hospital Length of Stay and Readmission Among Children




BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVES:

Social risk factors are linked to children’s health, but little is known about how frequently these factors are documented using the International Classification of Diseases (ICD) or whether documentation is associated with health care use outcomes. Using a large administrative database of pediatric hospitalizations, we examined the prevalence of ICD social risk code documentation and hypothesized that social code documentation would be associated with longer length of stay (LOS) and readmission.

METHODS:

We analyzed hospitalizations of children ages ≤18 using the 2012 Nationwide Readmissions Database. The following ICD social codes were used as predictors: family member with alcohol and/or drug problem, history of abuse, parental separation, foster care, educational circumstance, housing instability, other economic strain, and legal circumstance. Outcomes included long LOS (top quintile) and readmission within 30 days after discharge. Covariates included individual, hospital, and season variables.

RESULTS:

Of 926 073 index hospitalizations, 7432 (0.8%) had International Classification of Diseases, Ninth Revision, social codes. Social code documentation was significantly associated with long LOS. Adjusting for covariates, family alcohol and/or drug problem (odds ratio [OR] 1.65; 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.16–2.35), foster care (OR 2.37, 95% CI 1.53–3.65), other economic strain (OR 2.12, 95% CI 1.38–3.26), and legal circumstances (OR 1.66; 95% CI 1.02–2.71) remained significant predictors of long LOS. Social code documentation was not associated with readmission after adjusting for covariates.

CONCLUSIONS:

Social ICD codes are associated with prolonged LOS and readmission in pediatric hospitalizations, but they are infrequently documented. Future work exploring these associations could help to determine if addressing social risk factors in inpatient settings might improve child health outcomes.

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