One in 5 parents report a problem in their child’s hospital-to-home transition, leading to adverse events, dissatisfaction, and readmissions. Although researchers in several studies have explored parent insights into discharge needs, few have explored perceptions of causes for pediatric readmissions. We sought to investigate factors contributing to pediatric readmissions, from both parent and physician perspectives.


We conducted a qualitative study using semistructured interviews with parents, discharging and readmitting physicians, and subspecialist consultants of children readmitted within 30 days of initial discharge from the pediatric ward at an urban nonfreestanding children’s hospital. Participants were interviewed during the readmission and asked about care transition experiences during the initial admission and potential causes and preventability of readmission. Data were analyzed iteratively by using a constant-comparative approach. We identified major themes, solicited feedback, and inferred relationships between themes to develop a conceptual model for preventing readmissions.


We conducted 53 interviews from 20 patient readmissions, including 20 parents, 20 readmitting physicians, 11 discharging physicians, and 3 consulting subspecialists. Major themes included the following: (1) unclear roles cause lack of ownership in patient care tasks, (2) lack of collaborative communication leads to discordant understanding of care plans, and (3) incomplete hospital-to-home transitions result in ongoing reliance on the hospital.


Clear definition of team member roles, improved communication among care team members and between care teams and families, and enhanced care coordination to facilitate the hospital-to-home transition were perceived as potential interventions that may help prevent readmissions.

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