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Acad Pediatr. 2018 May - Jun;18(4):390-396. doi: 10.1016/j.acap.2017.09.015. Epub 2017 Sep 28.

Outpatient Visits Before Ambulatory Care-Sensitive Hospitalization of Children Receiving Medicaid.

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Department of General Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. Electronic address:
Children's Hospital Association, Lenexa, Kans.
Department of General Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.
Boston Children's Hospital, Boston, Mass.



Hospitalizations for ambulatory care-sensitive conditions (ACSC) are measured to indicate health care system quality, with the premise that fewer hospitalizations would occur with better preceding outpatient care. Our objectives were to identify outpatient care received in the 7 days preceding acute pediatric hospitalizations and to compare receipt of outpatient care by hospitalization type (ACSC vs non-ACSC).


This retrospective observational study used a 10-state database of Medicaid claims to identify outpatient visits within 7 days before acute unplanned hospitalization for children aged 0 to 17 years. We used logistic regression to assess the relationship between hospitalization type and occurrence of a preceding outpatient clinic visit, controlling for patient age, race/ethnicity, type of Medicaid, and complex chronic conditions.


Of 254,902 hospitalizations, 28.6% had a preceding outpatient visit. Thirty-five percent of hospitalizations were for ACSC. A greater percentage of ACSC versus non-ACSC hospitalizations had a preceding outpatient visit (31.1% vs 27.3%, P < .001). In multivariable analysis, characteristics associated with a preceding outpatient visit were age <1 versus 13 to 17 years (adjusted odds ratio [aOR] 2.4; 95% confidence interval [CI] 2.3-2.5), ≥2 vs 0 complex chronic conditions (aOR 1.9; 95% CI 1.8-2.0), Medicaid managed care versus fee for service (aOR 1.2; 95% CI 1.2-1.3), and ACSC versus non-ACSC hospitalization (aOR 1.2; 95% CI 1.1-1.2).


Although receipt of outpatient care was modestly higher in children hospitalized with an ACSC, most hospitalized children did not receive preceding outpatient care. Further investigation is needed to assess why such a large proportion of children do not receive outpatient care before acute unplanned hospitalization, especially for ACSC.


ambulatory care–sensitive conditions; hospitalization; non–ambulatory care–sensitive conditions; pediatrics

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