BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVE:

Home health nursing care (HH) may be a valuable approach to long-term optimization of health for children, particularly those with medical complexity who are prone to frequent and lengthy hospitalizations. We sought to assess the relationship between HH services and hospital use in children.

METHODS:

Retrospective, matched cohort study of 2783 hospitalized children receiving postdischarge HH services by BAYADA Home Health Care across 19 states and 7361 matched controls not discharged to HH services from the Children’s Hospital Association Case Mix database between January 2004 and September 2012. Subsequent hospitalizations, hospital days, readmissions, and costs of hospital care were assessed over the 12-month period after the initial hospitalization. Nonparametric Wilcoxon signed rank tests were used for comparisons between HH and non-HH users.

RESULTS:

Although HH cases had a higher percentage of complex chronic conditions (68.5% vs 65.4%), technology assistance (40.5% vs 35.7%), and neurologic impairment (40.7% vs 37.3%) than matched controls (P ≤ .003 for all), 30-day readmission rates were lower in HH patients (18.3% vs 21.5%, P = .001). At 12 months after the index admission, HH patients averaged fewer admissions (0.8 vs 1.0, P < .001), fewer days in the hospital (6.4 vs 6.6, P < .001), and lower hospital costs ($22 511 vs $24 194, P < .001) compared with matched controls.

CONCLUSIONS:

Children discharged to HH care experienced less hospital use than children with similar characteristics who did not use HH care. Further investigation is needed to understand how HH care affects the health and health services of children.

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