The goal of this study was to identify the proportion of dehydration-related ambulatory care–sensitive condition hospitalizations, the reasons why these hospitalizations were preventable, and factors associated with preventability.


A cross-sectional survey of primary care providers (PCPs), inpatient attending physicians, and parents was conducted in a consecutive series of children with ambulatory care–sensitive conditions admitted to an urban hospital over 14 months.


Eighty-five children were diagnosed with dehydration. Their mean age was 1.6 years; most had public (74%) or no (17%) insurance, and were nonwhite (91%). The proportion of hospitalizations assessed as preventable varied from 12% for agreement among all 3 sources to 45% for any source. Parents identified inadequate prevention (50%), poor self-education (34%), and poor quality of care (38%) as key factors. PCPs identified parents providing insufficient home rehydration (33%), not visiting the clinic (25%), and not calling earlier (16%) as reasons. Inpatient attending physicians cited home rehydration (40%), delays in seeking care (40%), and lacking a PCP (20%) as contributors. Physicians (PCPs and inpatient attending physicians) were more likely than parents to describe the admission as inappropriate (75% vs 67% vs 0%; P < .01). Parental dissatisfaction with their child’s PCP and a history of avoiding primary care due to costs or insurance problems were associated with significantly higher odds of preventable hospitalization.


Up to 45% of dehydration-related hospitalizations may be preventable. Inadequate parental education by physicians, insufficient home rehydration, deferring clinic visits, insurance and cost barriers, inappropriate admissions, poor quality of care, and parental dissatisfaction with PCPs are the reasons that these hospitalizations might have been prevented.

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