ER admissions for kids’ constipation on the rise

A lack of GP knowledge about paediatric constipation is putting avoidable stress on emergency rooms, says a Melbourne gastroenterologist.

“If we could better treat some of these patients in the primary setting, we would free up emergency department resources and hospital resources,” says Dr Bridget Southwell of the Murdoch Childrens Research Institute.

A study by Dr Southwell and colleagues found nearly 9,000 paediatric admissions to Victorian hospitals with a primary diagnosis of constipation between 2003 and 2009, with stays lasting an average of four and a half days.

There were 1,121 readmissions for 668 children and, on average, each admission period cost $4236 per patient.

Predictors of readmission included age 10–18, male gender, rural residence, severe socio-economic disadvantage and association with other medical conditions.

Almost 95% of children with