Between-country variation in health care resource use and its impact on outcomes in acute care settings have been challenging to disentangle from illness severity by using administrative data.
We conducted a preplanned analysis employing patient-level emergency department (ED) data from children enrolled in 2 previously conducted clinical trials. Participants aged 3 to <48 months with <72 hours of gastroenteritis were recruited in pediatric EDs in the United States (N = 10 sites; 588 participants) and Canada (N = 6 sites; 827 participants). The primary outcome was an unscheduled health care provider visit within 7 days; the secondary outcomes were intravenous fluid administration and hospitalization at or within 7 days of the index visit.
In adjusted analysis, unscheduled revisits within 7 days did not differ (adjusted odds ratio [aOR]: 0.72; 95% confidence interval (CI): 0.50 to 1.02). At the index ED visit, although participants in Canada were assessed as being more dehydrated, intravenous fluids were administered more frequently in the United States (aOR: 4.6; 95% CI: 2.9 to 7.1). Intravenous fluid administration rates did not differ after enrollment (aOR: 1.4; 95% CI: 0.7 to 2.8; US cohort with Canadian as referent). Overall, intravenous rehydration was higher in the United States (aOR: 3.8; 95% CI: 2.5 to 5.7). Although hospitalization rates during the 7 days after enrollment (aOR: 1.1; 95% CI: 0.4 to 2.6) did not differ, hospitalization at the index visit was more common in the United States (3.9% vs 2.3%; aOR: 3.2; 95% CI: 1.6 to 6.8).
Among children with gastroenteritis and similar disease severity, revisit rates were similar in our 2 study cohorts, despite lower rates of intravenous rehydration and hospitalization in Canadian-based EDs.