In 2018, almost 12,000 Canadian children and youth age 17 and younger were readmitted to hospital within 30 days of their initial hospitalization. According to the latest information published by the Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI), 60% of these pediatric patients were age 4 and younger. These numbers were consistent over the previous 6 years.

The top 3 reasons for pediatric readmissions were pneumonia and respiratory tract infections, digestive conditions, and complications following procedures. The data also shows that the average length of hospital stay for pediatric readmissions was typically short: approximately 50% of readmitted patients stayed in hospital for 1 or 2 days. In comparison, 35% of readmitted adults age 18 to 64 and 20% of readmitted seniors 65 and older stayed in hospital for 1 or 2 days.

In 2018, there were 171,786 hospitalizations for children and youth 17 and younger. The main reasons for hospitalizations were surgical procedures, diseases of the respiratory system (such as pneumonia, bronchitis and asthma) and conditions occurring shortly after birth (such as neonatal jaundice).


“Having a child admitted to the hospital is a stressful event, and having an urgent readmission adds to a patient’s and family’s stress. Our data on the frequency and causes of pediatric readmissions can provide hospitals and health system planners with information to help strengthen both discharge planning within their hospitals and transitions to primary care for the younger patients in their health region.” — Mélanie Josée Davidson, Director, Health System Performance, CIHI
“The decision to discharge a child from hospital can be tricky. The clinical team makes a judgment call about the health status of the child, the resources within the family and community, and the availability of medical follow-up, and then weighs these against the sometimes-urgent need to find a bed for the next acutely ill patient. Readmission is frustrating and inconvenient for families, and potentially carries some risk. While we can’t eliminate readmission, we can seek best practices through transparent measurement, comparison and discussion from multiple jurisdictions.” — Dr. Brett W. Taylor, MD, FRCP, MHI, Emergency Pediatrics and Health Informatics, IWK Health Centre/Dalhousie University


This information is featured in CIHI’s Your Health System, an interactive health system performance web tool. Today’s release of Your Health System also includes updated results for 24 health indicators on topics such as patient safety, quality of long-term care, health expenditures and more.

CIHI is also releasing 2018–2019 data on emergency department (ED) visits — including information for those age 17 and under — in our National Ambulatory Care Reporting System (NACRS) Emergency Department Quick Stats and interactive web tool. Our data includes more than 15 million ED visits that took place in 2018–2019, representing 84% of ED visits across Canada. For the first time, Quebec data is included this year.


About CIHI

The Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI) is an independent, not-for-profit organization dedicated to providing essential health information to all Canadians.

CIHI works closely with federal, provincial and territorial partners and stakeholders throughout Canada to gather, package and disseminate information to inform policy, management, care and research, leading to better and more equitable health outcomes for all Canadians.

Health information has become one of society’s most valuable public goods. For 25 years, CIHI has set the pace on data privacy, security, accessibility and innovation to improve Canada’s health systems.

CIHI: Better data. Better decisions. Healthier Canadians.

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