Healthcare Delivery, Quality, and Safety| Volume 229, P216-222, September 2018

Correlation of payor status and pediatric transfer for acute appendicitis

Published:April 30, 2018DOI:



      Tertiary referral centers provide specialty and critical care for patients presenting to hospitals that lack these resources. There is a notion among tertiary centers that outside hospitals are more likely to transfer uninsured or underinsured patients. We examined funding status of patients transferred to our tertiary pediatric hospital for surgical management of appendicitis, hypothesizing that transferred patients were more likely to have unfavorable coverage.

      Materials and methods

      The electronic medical record was queried for all cases of laparoscopic appendectomy at our hospital between 2011 and 2015. Insurance was grouped into three categories: commercial, Medicaid/Children's Health Insurance Plan, or none. Transferred patients were compared to patients who presented directly.


      A total of 5758 patients underwent laparoscopic appendectomy during the study period, of which 1683 (29.2%) were transfer patients. Transfer patients were more likely to be older, with a median age of 10.5 y versus 9.8 y in nontransferred patients (P ≤ 0.0001), and were more likely to be identified as non-Hispanic (50.0% versus 36.5%; P ≤ 0.0001). Insurance coverage was similar between groups. However, subgroup analysis of the hospitals that most frequently used our transfer services revealed a trend to transfer a higher proportion of Medicaid/Children's Health Insurance Plan patients.


      Overall, pediatric patients transferred for laparoscopic appendectomy had similar insurance coverage to patients admitted directly, but subgroup analysis shows that not all centers follow this trend. Transfer patients were more frequently older and non-Hispanic. This builds upon the existing literature regarding the correlation of funding and transfer practices and highlights the need for additional research in this area.


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