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Ital J Pediatr. 2009 Feb 22;35(1):3. doi: 10.1186/1824-7288-35-3.

Access to paediatric emergency departments in Italy: a comparison between immigrant and Italian patients.

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Department of Pediatrics, AOU Maggiore della Carit, University of Piemonte Orientale, Novara, Italy.



The aim of the study was to investigate whether access to paediatric emergency departments differed between foreign and Italian patients.


We performed a cross-sectional study between January-December 2007 to analyse attendance's characteristics in the paediatric emergency departments of ten Italian public hospitals. The study population included each foreign patient and the following Italian patient admitted to the same emergency department. All causes of admission of these subjects were evaluated, together with the child's age, gender, country of birth, parents' nationality, time of admission, severity code and discharge-related circumstances.


We enrolled 4874 patients, 2437 foreign (M:F = 1409:1028) and 2437 Italian ones (M:F = 1368:1069). Most of foreign and Italian patients' admissions were sorted as green (72.5% and 87.8%, respectively) or white codes (25.2% and 9.8%, respectively). The most frequent causes for attendance concerned respiratory tract diseases, followed by gastroenteric ones and injuries in both groups.


In our survey immigrants didn't access to emergency departments more than Italian children. Both of them referred to emergency departments mainly for semi-urgent or non-urgent problems. Foreign and Italian patients suffered from the same pathologies. Infectious diseases traditionally thought to be a potential problem in immigrant populations actually seem to be quite infrequent.

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