AIM: Respiratory tract infections (RTIs) and acute gastroenteritis (AGE) significantly impact health service use among children; however, recent trends in hospital admission rates are not well documented. Our objectives were to describe admission rates for RTI and AGE among children in one jurisdiction over a 10-year period and their associated length of stay (LOS), monetary costs and chronic conditions.
METHODS: This is retrospective review of hospital admissions data for Australian Capital Territory residents aged 0-16 years admitted with a primary diagnosis commensurate with RTI or AGE.
RESULTS: Between 2009 and 2018, there were 8668 admissions. Admission rates rose from 9.2/1000 age-adjusted population in 2009 to 10.5/1000 in 2018. LOS reduced by 10 h (43 to 33 h). The median cost per admission was AUD$3158 (AUD$148 to AUD$175 271) and 16.4% of children had a chronic condition, associated with longer LOS and higher episode costs. Median age at admission was 1 year 5 months. Infants were admitted three times as often as older children and admissions for lower RTI were more common than for upper RTI or AGE (P < 0.001).
CONCLUSIONS: Paediatric hospital admission rates for RTI in the Australian Capital Territory are increasing and LOS is decreasing. Admissions for AGE remain relatively low following the introduction of the rotavirus vaccine in 2007. Effective strategies are needed to reduce the burden of paediatric RTI.