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Keywords:

  • hospitalisation;
  • paediatric;
  • sickle-cell disease

Aim

Sickle-cell disease (SCD) is more prevalent in Australia due to increased migration; however, the Australian paediatric SCD population has not been previously described. This study aimed to identify the demographic features of and quantify the hospital resource utilisation in the SCD population at The Royal Children's Hospital in Victoria.

Methods

This was a retrospective chart review of SCD patients who presented to the Royal Children's Hospital over a 10.5-year period. Descriptive analyses were conducted.

Results

Thirty-seven SCD patients aged from 0.2 to 18.0 years (mean: 8.5 ± 4.8 years) had 535 admissions over the 10.5-year period. The population was made up of 28 homozygous sickle-cell disease, 1 sickle C disease and 8 sickle-cell beta patients from a variety of ethnic backgrounds. Admissions included 264 unplanned admissions, that is 258 admissions via the emergency department and 6 admissions via outpatients, and 271 planned admissions. Mean length of stay for unplanned admissions was 3.2 ± 2.6 days. Common diagnoses for unplanned admissions were 187 vaso-occlusive crisis (70.8%), 32 infections (12.1%) and 26 anaemic episodes (9.8%). Transfusion therapy (91.9%) accounted for the majority of planned admissions.

Conclusions

Children with sickle-cell disease in an Australian setting require hospitalisation for various reasons related to disease, either unexpected complications or elective procedures. Factors affecting the provision of optimal healthcare to be explored include the multicultural demographics of the SCD population, the timely management of vaso-occlusive crises and the availability of SCD-related protocols.