Hospital Stays for Children with Aspiration Pneumonia Longer, Pricier than Community-Acquired

Hospital Stays for Children with Aspiration Pneumonia Longer, Pricier than Community-Acquired

A recent study presented at the Pediatric Academic Societies Meeting, April 30-May 3 in Baltimore, Md., suggests that hospitalizations of children with aspiration pneumonia (AP) last longer and cost more when compared to children admitted with community-acquired pneumonia (CAP).

AP and CAP, two inflammatory conditions that affect the microscopic air sacs of the lungs, can induce breathing difficulties, chest pain, and cough. The difference between the two conditions is this: AP inflammation is primarily induced by inhaling foreign matter like vomitus, food or liquid; CAP inflammation develops in patients with limited or no access to medical care and is induced by infections by pathogens, bacteria, or viruses.

Pneumonia, including AP and CAP, is considered the leading cause of death among children, especially for newborns. In the U.S., pneumonia is the most common reason for admitting children to hospitals after an emergency department visit, but data concerning hospitalized children with AP is lacking.

“Our study is the first to describe the clinical and hospital characteristics of a broad cohort of children hospitalized with aspiration pneumonia,” said Dr. Alexander Hirsch, chief resident at Boston Children’s Hospital in a May 3 news release.

The team of researchers examined data extracted from the Pediatric Health Information System, and searched for hospitalized children with AP or CAP treated at 43 hospitals between the years 2009 and 2014.

Researchers identified 12,097 hospitalized children with AP, and 121,489 with CAP. The patient data was evaluated and compared according to a set of characteristics that included age, percentage of complex chronic condition, length of stay at the hospital, intensive care unit (ICU) admission, expenses, 30-day readmission rate, and seasonal variability.

“When compared to children with CAP, children hospitalized with aspiration pneumonia are more likely to have a chronic condition and are more likely to receive care in an ICU, have higher costs of hospitalization and higher 30-day readmission rates after hospital discharge,” Hirsch said.

Concerning hospitalization cost, researchers determined that the average expenses of patients with AP were 2.4 times higher than those of patients with CAP. They also recorded seasonal variability for CAP hospitalizations, but not for AP patients.

“Our study underscores the need for future research to optimize coordination of care and treatment for children at risk of aspiration pneumonia,” Hirsch said.

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