UMEM Educational Pearls

Category: Pediatrics

Title: Pediatric bounce backs

Keywords: Bouncebacks, high risk discharges, gastroenteritis, death (PubMed Search)

Posted: 1/19/2024 by Jenny Guyther, MD (Updated: 4/13/2024)
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Revisits back to the ED within 3 days of the initial visit represent a standard quality measure.  A critical ED revisit was defined as an ICU admission or death within 3 days of ED discharge.  This study looked at 16.3 million children who were discharged from various EDs over a 4 year period and found that 0.1% (18,704 patients) had a critical revisit and 0.00001% (180 patients) died.  

The most common diagnosis at the initial visit of those patients coming back with a critical revisit included: Upper respiratory infections, gastroenteritis/nausea/vomiting and asthma.

The most common critical revisit diagnosis were: asthma, pneumonia, cellulitis, bronchiolitis, upper respiratory infections, respiratory failure, seizure, gastroenteritis/nausea/vomiting, appendectomy and sickle cell crisis. Among the patients who died, 48.9% were younger than 4 years. Patients with complex medical problems and patients seen at a high volume center were more likely to have a critical ED visit.

Bottom line: These ED revisits may not have been related to missed diagnosis (with the exception of appendicitis), but rather due to the natural progression of certain disease processes.  Patients with these diagnoses may benefit from careful reassessment, targeted patient education, more specific return precautions and closer outpatient follow up.


Cavallaro et al.  Critical Revisits Among Children After Emergency Department Discharge.  Annals of Emergency Medicine.  2023.  epub ahead of print.