WH&Y authors: Professor Kate Steinbeck

Citation: Batra S, Ng EYC, Foo F, Noori O, McCaskill M, Steinbeck K. Older adolescent presentations to a children's hospital emergency department. Emergency Medicine Australasia 2016;28:419-24



Objectives: To describe the characteristics, diagnoses and outcomes of older adolescents, aged 16–19 years, presenting to a paediatric ED.

Methods: A retrospective review of total ED presentations by older adolescents to a tertiary paediatric hospital between 2010 and 2012, inclusive, was undertaken to determine if behavioural or mental health problems were common.

Results: A total of 1184 ED presentations by 730 older adolescents were identified. Injury and abdominal pain were the most common complaints for presentations by older adolescents to the ED. The median length of stay in ED was 241 (range: 0–3873) min. More than 60% of the older adolescent ED presentations were triaged urgent or semi‐urgent, and 39% of all these presentations resulted in hospital admission. Two‐thirds of these older adolescents had a chronic illness, which accounted for 77% of all ED presentations by older adolescents. The history of chronic illness was considered related or relevant in the evaluation and management of over 80% of older adolescents. Of all the ED presentations by older adolescents with chronic illness, only one quarter had transition planning documentation.

Conclusions: A high prevalence of chronic illness was found in older adolescents attending the paediatric ED. There was no evidence that behavioural and mental health issues dominated. These findings reflect admission policy.

About The Authors


Kate Steinbeck is an endocrinologist and adolescent physician, and Professor and Medical Foundation ...