OBJECTIVES. The objectives of this study were to describe the patient and hospital characteristics of pediatric sports injury hospitalization and to determine the hospital characteristics that are associated with length of stay and total hospital charges (per discharge).

METHODS. Children who were aged 5 to 18 years and had a diagnosis of a sports injury in the Nationwide Inpatient Sample between 2000 and 2003 were included. National estimates of pediatric sports injury hospitalization, including the average and median of length of stay and total hospital charges, were computed. The relationship of hospital characteristics to length of stay and total hospital charges were assessed using linear regression, adjusting for patient characteristics and sample weight.

RESULTS. A total of 7979 pediatric sports injury hospitalizations among children who were aged 5 to 18 were identified during 4 years, approximately 10000 per year, nationwide. More than half of the hospitalizations were attributed to fractures. The mean and median of length of stay for pediatric sports injuries was 2.4 and 1.1 days, respectively. When weighted, the estimated total hospital charges for sports injury hospitalizations among 5- to 18-year-olds were $485 million during 4 years, with a steady increase each year. Urban hospitals had 46.1% higher total hospital charges than rural hospitals. Hospitals in the western United States had significantly greater total hospital charges than those in other regions.

CONCLUSIONS. The findings provide an empirical basis for future research on the magnitude of sports-related injuries that result in hospitalization among children. More research is needed to identify contributing factors that are associated with length of stay and total hospital charges for sports injury hospitalization. Intervention efforts also should be directed toward preventing severe sports injuries and to reducing the hospitalization and cost.

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