Aim: To investigate if there are inequities in quality and safety outcomes for children with intellectual disability admitted to two tertiary paediatric hospitals.
Method: A cross-sectional study of 1367 admissions for 1018 randomly selected patients admitted for more than 23 hours to one of two tertiary children's hospitals in Sydney, Australia (1st January-31st December 2017). Electronic medical records were manually interrogated to identify children with intellectual disability (including developmental delay). Data extracted included patient demographics, length of stay, number of admissions, and reported clinical incidents.
Results: In total, 12.3% (n=125) of children admitted during the study period had intellectual disability, which represented 13.9% (n=190) of admissions. Sex and age at admission in children with and without intellectual disability were similar: 83 (43.7%) vs 507 (43.1%) females and 107 (56.3%) vs 670 (56.9%) males, p=0.875; median age 3 years (0-18y) vs 4 years (0-18y), p=0.122. Children with intellectual disability had significantly greater median length of stay (100.5h vs 79h, p<0.001) and cost of admission (A$11 596.38 vs A$8497.96) than their peers (p=0.001). Children with intellectual disability had more admissions with at least one incident compared to children without intellectual disability (14.7% vs 9.7%); this was not statistically significant (p=0.06).
Interpretation: Children with intellectual disability experience inequitable quality and safety outcomes in hospital. Engaging children and families in clinical incident reporting may enhance understanding of safety risks for children with intellectual disability in hospital.