URMC Pediatric Hospitalist Wins AAP Research Award

Study determines average length of stay for respiratory illnesses

October 13, 2008

Karen Wilson, M.D. M.P.H., received a research award today at the American Academy of Pediatrics’ annual meeting in Boston for her study that determines the average length of stay for respiratory illnesses, the most common reason for pediatric hospitalization. Wilson, a senior instructor of Pediatrics at the University of Rochester Medical Center, was awarded the 2008 Pediatric Hospital Medicine Abstract Research Award by the American Academy of Pediatrics Section on Hospital Medicine.

Respiratory illnesses, including asthma, pneumonia and bronchiolitis, accounted for almost 700,000 hospital stays for children in 2003. Those hospital stays add up to about $3 billion in hospital costs. Wilson’s research, using a nationally representative sample, showed that the mean length of stay for children with asthma, pneumonia and bronchiolitis was about two days.

“We need these benchmarks to see how we’re doing compared to other hospitals,” said Wilson, who is one of Golisano Children’s Hospital at Strong’s first pediatric hospitalists and a fellow in the General Academic Pediatrics fellowship program through the division of General Pediatrics. “We also need benchmarks to show us whether new interventions are making a difference in children’s outcomes.”

Pediatric hospitalists specialize in treating pediatric patients who are in the hospital. They provide busy pediatricians and family practitioners the option of allowing physicians specializing in the care of hospitalized children to provide care for their patients while they are inpatients. Begun in late 2007, the Pediatric Hospital Medicine Program at Golisano Children’s Hospital is one of a few academic programs in the country. Not only do its physicians provide clinical care, but they also dedicate time to research and other academic activities. Given their specialization in pediatric hospital care, it is natural for pediatric hospitalists to conduct research in hospital quality improvement, safety, cost and the inpatient healthcare process. Wilson’s research is an excellent example of this type of research, highlighting the importance of length of stay for pediatric patients hospitalized with  the most common illnesses that lead to hospitalization.

The study results have also come at an opportune time, said Wilson. The AAP released new clinical guidelines for treatment of bronchiolitis in 2006, and with the baseline data from this study, subsequent studies on the length of stay for those patients could show whether the new guidelines speed recovery.  Wilson is also the founding chair of the Research Subcommittee of the AAP’s Section on Hospital Medicine. Her study was funded by a grant from the US Department of Health and Human Services Health Resources and Services Administration.

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