Understanding readmissions in children undergoing surgery: A pediatric NSQIP analysis

Afif N. Kulaylat, Dorothy V. Rocourt, Anthony Y. Tsai, Kathryn L. Martin, Brett W. Engbrecht, Mary C. Santos, Robert E. Cilley, Christopher S. Hollenbeak, Peter W. Dillon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


Background: Readmission is increasingly being utilized as an important clinical outcome and measure of hospital quality. Our aim was to delineate rates, risk factors, and reasons for unplanned readmission in pediatric surgery. Materials and methods: Retrospective review of pediatric patients (n = 130,274) undergoing surgery (2013–2014) at hospitals enrolled in the Pediatric National Surgical Quality Improvement Program (NSQIP-P) was performed. Logistic regression was used to model factors associated with unplanned 30-day readmission. Reasons for readmission were reviewed to determine the most common causes of readmission. Results: There were 6059 (n = 4.7%) readmitted children within 30 days of the index operation. Of these, 5041 (n = 3.9%) were unplanned, with readmission rates ranging from 1.3% in plastic surgery to 5.2% in general pediatric surgery, and 10.8% in neurosurgery. Unplanned readmissions were associated with emergent status, comorbidities, and the occurrence of pre- or postdischarge postoperative complications. Overall, the most common causes for readmission were surgical site infections (23.9%), ileus/obstruction/gastrointestinal (16.8%), respiratory (8.6%), graft/implant/device-related (8.1%), neurologic (7.0%), or pain (5.8%). Median time from discharge to readmission was 8 days (IQR: 3–14 days). Reasons for readmission, time until readmission, and need for reoperative procedure (overall 28%, n = 1414) varied between surgical specialties. Conclusion: The reasons for readmission in children undergoing surgery are complex, varied, and influenced by patient characteristics and postoperative complications. These data inform risk-stratification for readmission in pediatric surgical populations, and help to identify potential areas for targeted interventions to improve quality. They also highlight the importance of accounting for case-mix in the interpretation of hospital readmission rates. Level of evidence: 3.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1280-1287
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of pediatric surgery
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2018

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Surgery
  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health


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