Childhood injuries are increasingly treated in emergency departments (EDs) but the relationship between injury severity and ED resource utilization has not been evaluated. The objective of this study was to compare resource utilization for pediatric injury-related ED visits across injury-severity levels and with non-injury visits, using standardized, validated scales.
A retrospective analysis of 2004-2008 ED visits from the Pediatric Emergency Care Applied Research Network Core Data Project. Maximum Abbreviated Injury Scale severity (MAIS) and Severity Classification System (SCS) scores were calculated and compared. MAIS and SCS are ordinal scales from 1 (minor injury) to 6, and 1 (low anticipated resource utilization) to 5, respectively. ED length of stay (LOS) and admission percentages were calculated as comparative proxy measures of resource utilization.
There were 763,733 injury visits and 2,328,916 non-injury visits, most with SCS of 2 or 3. Of the injured patients, 59.2 % had an MAIS of 1. ED LOS and admission percentage increased with increasing MAIS from 1-5. LOS and admission percentage increased with increasing SCS in both samples. Median LOS was shorter for injured versus non-injured patients with SCS 3-5. Non-injured patients with SCS 2-5 were more likely admitted than injured patients. Most injured patients had an SCS 3 with an MAIS 1-2, or an SCS 2 with an MAIS 1, with no correlation between the two scales.
While admission rates and LOS increase with increasing AIS and SCS severity, these two classification schemas do not reliably correlate. Similarly, ED visit metrics differ between injured and non-injured patients in similar SCS categories. Although AIS and SCS both have value, these differences should be considered when using these schemas in research and quality improvement.
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Zonfrillo, M., Macy, M., Cook, L. J., Funai, T., Stanley, R. M., Chamberlain, J. M., Cunningham, R. M., Alpern, E., & Pediatric Emergency Care Applied Research Network (PECARN) (2016). Anticipated resource utilization for injury versus non-injury pediatric visits to emergency departments. Injury Epidemiology, 3 (). http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s40621-016-0077-4