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Med Care. 2008 Mar;46(3):331-8. doi: 10.1097/MLR.0b013e318160b492.

The role of hospital profit status in pediatric spleen injury management.

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  • 1Department of Pediatrics, University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, Little Rock, Arkansas 72202-3591, USA.



Evidence suggests that over 90% of pediatric splenic injuries can be successfully managed nonoperatively. Although pediatric hospitals have rapidly adopted nonoperative management, variability exists among other types of hospitals.


We tested 2 a priori hypotheses: (1) spleen-injured children are more likely to receive splenectomy in for-profit hospitals than in not-for-profit hospitals; and (2) hospital charges for spleen cases are greater in for-profit hospital than in not-for-profit hospitals.


Multivariable regression was performed with data from the Kid's Inpatient Database (KID) for years 2000 and 2003, controlling for patient and hospital characteristics. Children (0-18 years) hospitalized with a blunt traumatic (noniatrogenic) spleen injury in any of the states participating in KID (N = 5061), including adult and pediatric hospitals. Main outcome measures were splenectomy and hospital charges.


A total of 756 children (14.9%) received splenectomies within 1 day of arrival. Splenectomy was found to be more likely among children treated at for-profit hospitals [odds ratio (OR), 1.75; 95% confidence interval (CI), 1.14-2.67] than among children treated in not-for-profit general hospitals. Splenectomies were much less common in children's hospitals (OR, 0.14; 95% CI, 0.05-0.41) than in not-for-profit general hospitals. Hospital charges for all spleen-injured children (regardless of treatment) were significantly greater in for-profit hospitals than in not-for-profit hospitals.


For-profit hospitals seem to be trailing not-for-profit hospitals in the adoption of spleen-conserving management practices. The cost of caring for a child with a splenic injury also seems greater at for-profit hospitals, regardless of management path (ie, splenectomy vs. nonoperative management).

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