Variation in care and clinical outcomes in children hospitalized with orbital cellulitis

Jessica L. Markham, Matthew Hall, Jessica L. Bettenhausen, Angela L. Myers, Henry T. Puls, Russell J. McCulloh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations


OBJECTIVES: To describe variation in the care of children hospitalized with orbital cellulitis and to determine associations with length of stay (LOS), emergency department (ED) revisits, and hospital readmissions. METHODS: By using the Pediatric Health Information System, we performed a multicenter, retrospective study of children aged 2 months to 18 years with a primary International Classification of Diseases, Ninth Revision, Clinical Modification discharge diagnosis code for orbital cellulitis from 2007 to 2014. We assessed hospital-level variation in the use of diagnostic tests, corticosteroids, and antibiotics individually and in aggregate for association with outcomes (LOS, ED revisits, readmissions) after risk-adjusting for important clinical and demographic factors. RESULTS: A total of 1828 children met inclusion criteria. Complete blood cell counts (median [interquartile range]: 81.8% [66.7-89.6]), C-reactive protein levels (57.1% [22.2-84.0]), blood cultures (57.9% [48.9-63.6]), and computed tomography imaging (74.7% [66.7-81.0]) were the most frequently performed diagnostic tests, with significant variation observed across hospitals (all P, .001). Corticosteroids were used in 29.2% of children (interquartile range: 18.4-37.5). There was significant variation in antibiotic exposure across hospitals (P, .001). Increased total diagnostic test usage was associated with increased LOS (P 5 .044), but not with 30-day ED revisits (P 5 .176) or readmissions (P 5 .403). CONCLUSIONS: Children hospitalized with orbital cellulitis experience wide variation in clinical management. Increased hospital-level usage is associated with increased LOS. Our findings highlight a critical need to identify treatment strategies that optimize resource use and outcomes for children hospitalized with orbital cellulitis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)28-35
Number of pages8
JournalHospital Pediatrics
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2018
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Pediatrics


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