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Organisational models at the emergency department to reduce hospital admissions among paediatric patients: a systematic literature review

, Carine Van de Voorde, Koen Van Den Heede

Abstract: Paediatric attendances at the emergency department (ED) are often admitted to the hospital less than 24 h to allow time for more extended evaluation. Innovative organisational models could prevent these hospital admissions without compromising safety or quality of delivered care. Therefore, this systematic review identifies evidence on organisational models at the ED with the primary aim to reduce hospital admissions among paediatric patients. Following the PRISMA guidelines, three bibliographic databases (Ovid Medline, Embase, and Cochrane Library) were searched. Studies on organisational models in Western countries, published between January 2009 and January 2021, which applied a comparative design or review and studied at least hospital admission rates, were included. Analyses were mainly descriptive because of the high heterogeneity among included publications. The primary outcome is hospital admission rates. Secondary outcomes are ED length of stay (LOS), waiting time, and patient satisfaction. Sixteen publications described several innovative organisational models ranging from the creation of dedicated units for paediatric patients, innovative staffing models to bringing paediatric critical care physicians to patients at rural EDs. However, the effect on hospital admission rates and other outcomes are inconclusive, and some organisational models may improve certain outcomes in certain settings or vice versa. It appears that a paediatric consultation liaison team has the most consistent effect on hospital admission rates and LOS of paediatric patients presenting with mental problems at the ED. Implementing new innovative organisational models at the ED for paediatric patients could be worthwhile to decrease hospital admissions. However, the existing evidence is of rather weak quality. Future service developments should, therefore, be conducted in a way that allows objective evaluation.
Keywords: children / emergency care / hospitalisation / organisational models / paediatrics

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