Time spent in hospital by children as a health care indicator: inter-district comparisons.
Henderson J., Goldacre MJ., Fairweather J., Seagroatt V.
It has been widely recommended that children should be admitted to hospital only if treatment cannot be provided at home, and that durations of hospital stay should be minimized. We have used record linkage to calculate a statistic which is not yet commonly available, the total time spent in hospital by children per year, and have compared this between six districts in the Oxford Region. Hospitalization rates for children who stayed a total of two days or less per year in hospital increased over time; rates for children who stayed more than two days declined. Mean and median total days spent in hospital varied between districts but, in absolute terms, the differences were small at less than one day's difference between districts per year per child admitted. Inter-district variation decreased over time, although the variation in use of day case care which remained suggests that some districts could still do more work in this fashion.