The hospital-to-hospital transfer of pediatric patients is a common practice that is poorly understood. To better understand this practice, we examined a national database to profile pediatric interfacility transfers.


We used the 2012 Kids’ Inpatient Database to examine characteristics of hospitalized pediatric patients (<21 years; excluding pregnancy diagnoses) with a transfer admission source. We performed descriptive statistics to compare patient characteristics, utilization, and hospital characteristics between those admitted by transfer versus routine admission. We constructed a multivariable logistic regression model to identify patient characteristics associated with being admitted by transfer versus routine admission.


Of the 5.95 million nonpregnancy hospitalizations in the United States in 2012, 4.4% were admitted by transfer from another hospital. Excluding neonatal hospitalizations, this rate increased to 9.4% of the 2.10 million nonneonatal, nonpregnancy hospitalizations. Eighty-six percent of transfers were to urban teaching hospitals. The most common transfer diagnoses to all hospitals nationally were mood disorder (8.9%), other perinatal conditions (8.7%), prematurity (4.8%), asthma (4.2%), and bronchiolitis (3.8%). In adjusted analysis, factors associated with higher odds of being admitted by transfer included having a neonatal principal diagnosis, male gender, white race, nonprivate insurance, rural residence, higher illness severity, and weekend admission.


Interfacility transfers are relatively common among hospitalized pediatric patients. Higher odds of admission by transfer are associated not only with higher illness severity but also with principal diagnosis, insurance status, and race. Further studies are needed to identify the etiologies and clinical impacts of identified transfer differences.

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