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OBJECTIVES: Hospitalisation is frequently used as a marker of disease severity in observational Emergency Department (ED) studies. The comparison of ED admission rates is complex in potentially being influenced by the characteristics of the region, ED, physician and patient. We aimed to study variation in ED admission rates of febrile children, to assess whether variation could be explained by disease severity and to identify patient groups with large variation, in order to use this to reduce unnecessary health care utilization that is often due to practice variation. DESIGN: MOFICHE (Management and Outcome of Fever in children in Europe, part of the PERFORM study,, is a prospective cohort study using routinely collected data on febrile children regarding patient characteristics (age, referral, vital signs and clinical alarming signs), diagnostic tests, therapy, diagnosis and hospital admission. SETTING AND PARTICIPANTS: Data were collected on febrile children aged 0-18 years presenting to 12 European EDs (2017-2018). MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: We compared admission rates between EDs by using standardised admission rates after adjusting for patient characteristics and initiated tests at the ED, where standardised rates >1 demonstrate higher admission rates than expected and rates <1 indicate lower rates than expected based on the ED patient population. RESULTS: We included 38,120 children. Of those, 9.695 (25.4%) were admitted to a general ward (range EDs 5.1-54.5%). Adjusted standardised admission rates ranged between 0.6 and 1.5. The largest variation was seen in short admission rates (0.1-5.0), PICU admission rates (0.2-2.2), upper respiratory tract infections (0.4-1.7) and fever without focus (0.5-2.7). Variation was small in sepsis/meningitis (0.9-1.1). CONCLUSIONS: Large variation exists in admission rates of febrile children evaluated at European EDs, however, this variation is largely reduced after correcting for patient characteristics and therefore overall admission rates seem to adequately reflect disease severity or a potential for a severe disease course. However, for certain patient groups variation remains high even after adjusting for patient characteristics.

Original publication




Journal article


PLoS One

Publication Date





Adolescent, Child, Child, Preschool, Disease Progression, Emergency Service, Hospital, Europe, Female, Fever, Hospitalization, Hospitals, Humans, Infant, Infant, Newborn, Male, Prospective Studies, Severity of Illness Index, Vital Signs