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Respiratory Ailments Leading Reasons Why ER Doctors Hospitalize Children and Teens

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AHRQ News and Numbers

Release date: June 28, 2007

About 3 of 10 children and teens admitted to the hospital from the emergency room (ER) have asthma, pneumonia, acute bronchitis, or another respiratory disorder, according to the latest News and Numbers summary from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ). Asthma alone accounted for more than one-third of respiratory admissions through the emergency room in 2004—95,000 cases.

AHRQ also found that:

  • Respiratory conditions are the leading cause of hospital admissions through the emergency room for infants and toddlers, accounting for nearly 40 percent of such admissions. For children age 5 to 9, respiratory illnesses account for 26 percent of admissions through the emergency room.
  • However, among older children (10 to 14 years of age) and teenagers (ages 15 to 17 years), injuries become the leading reasons for admission, accounting for 24 percent and 30 percent, respectively, of emergency room-ordered admissions to hospitals. Respiratory disorders are the third- and fourth-leading cause of admissions through the emergency room for children ages 10 to 14 years (12 percent) and teenagers 15 to 17 years (8 percent).
  • In general, about half of the 2.3 million admissions of children and adolescents begin in hospital emergency departments.

This AHRQ News & Numbers summary is based on data in Reasons for Being Admitted to the Hospital through the Emergency Department for Children and Adolescents, 2004 (PDF Help) and Hospital Admissions that Began in the Emergency Department for Children and Adolescents, 2004 (PDF Help). The reports use statistics from the Nationwide Inpatient Sample, a database of hospital inpatient stays that is nationally representative of inpatient stays in all short-term, non-Federal hospitals. The data are drawn from hospitals that comprise 90 percent of all discharges in the United States and include all patients, regardless of insurance type, as well as the uninsured.

For information, or to speak with an AHRQ data expert, contact Bob Isquith at or call (301) 427-1539.

Current as of June 2007


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