Background. Pediatric home health care is one of the fastest growing segments of our health care system. However, our knowledge of the extent and quality of the services provided in this field is generally limited. Despite this shortcoming, pediatric health care providers are increasingly expected to participate in the home health care of their patients. Objective. To describe the agencies and services that constitute pediatric home health care in a large metropolitan setting. Methods. During the summer of 1995, home health care agencies in King County, WA, were surveyed if they had provided any pediatric services within the preceding 6 months. The agencies were queried about their characteristics and services provided, as well as referral and reimbursement sources. Survey data were supplemented by interviews with agency and state health personnel. Results. Fourteen (88%) of the 16 agencies providing pediatric home health care services completed the survey. Agencies were predominantly for-profit, free-standing, and in business fewer than 10 years. Although there were uniform licensing requirements for agencies, no pediatric-specific regulations existed. In addition, many agencies lacked internal methods to ensure the provision of quality pediatric care. Eighty percent of all pediatric home health care services were provided by only 5 agencies. For intermittent (acute) services, agencies served approximately 450 children per month. The average number of visits per child was two, with 40% receiving only one visit. Services included skilled nursing (60%), infusion (27%), and respiratory therapy (9%). Maintenance (chronic/home health care services, for 156 chronically ill children, were provided almost exclusively by skilled nursing for an average of 9 hours per patient per day. The majority of referrals to agencies (75%) originated from health care providers, although a small number carne from insurance companies or individual families. Reimbursement for intermittent care services was divided among commercial insurance (35%), captitated contracts (35%), and Medicaid (20%). In contrast, 90% of reimbursement for the chronically ill was from Medicaid. Conclusions. In King County, WA, pediatric home health care is predominantly an unregulated, for-profit industry, with most agencies having little actual experience in pediatric home health care. In addition, the unique features of pediatric home health care necessitate both a greater understanding of this field and the consideration of more specific guidelines.
- pediatric home health care
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health