Utility of a pediatric observation unit for the management of children admitted to the emergency department

Antonio Gatto, Serena Rivetti, Lavinia Capossela, Davide Pata, Marcello Covino, Antonio Chiaretti

Risultato della ricerca: Contributo in rivistaArticolo in rivistapeer review


Background: Observation Units (OU), as part of emergency department (ED), are areas reserved for short-term treatment or observation of patients with selected diagnoses to determine the need for hospitalization or home referral. Methods: In this retrospective cohort study, we analyzed similarities and differences of children admitted to the pediatric ED of the Fondazione Policlinico Universitario A. Gemelli IRCCS hospital in the first 2 years of OU activity, analyzing general patient characteristics, access modalities, diagnosis, triage, laboratory and instrumental examinations, specialist visits, outcome of OU admission and average time spent in OU. Furthermore, we compared total numbers and type of hospitalization of the first 2 years of OU activity with those of previous 2 years. Results: The most frequent diagnoses were abdominal pain, minor head injury without loss of consciousness, vomiting, epilepsy and acute bronchiolitis. The most performed laboratory examinations were blood count. The most commonly performed instrumental examination was abdominal ultrasound. Neurological counseling was the most commonly requested. Average time spent in OU was 13 h in 2016 and 14.1 h in 2017. Most OU admissions did not last longer than 24 h (90.5% in 2016 and 89.5% in 2017). In the years 2014–2015, 13.4% of pediatric patients accessing the ED were hospitalized, versus 9.9% the years 2016–2017 reducing pediatric hospital admissions by 3.6% (p < 0.001). Conclusions: This study demonstrate that OU is a valid alternative to ordinary wards for specific pathologies. In accordance with the literature, our study showed that, in the first 2 years of the OU activity, admissions to hospital ward decreased compared with the previous 2 years with an increase of complex patients.
Lingua originaleEnglish
pagine (da-a)N/A-N/A
Stato di pubblicazionePubblicato - 2021


  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Children
  • Clinical Observation Units
  • Emergency Service, Hospital
  • Emergency department
  • Female
  • Hospitalization
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Italy
  • Male
  • Patient Selection
  • Pediatric observation unit
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Triage


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