Changes in paediatric Ambulatory Care Sensitive Conditions in Victoria, 2018-20: The COVID-19 effect?

Mary White, Simon Craig, Wanyu Chu, Harriet Hiscock

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review


Objectives: This study sought to describe the patterns in emergency department (ED) presentations and hospital admissions in children with Ambulatory Care Sensitive Conditions (ACSCs) before and during the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic restrictions in Victoria, Australia, to assess if changes in out-of-hospital care resulted in an increase in delayed/severe presentations. Methods: This study involved secondary analysis of Victorian Emergency Minimum Dataset and Victorian Admitted Episode Dataset data. Patients (<18 years) attending EDs with a diagnosis of an ACSC were included. We compared the number and severity of ASCS presentations pre-COVID-19 (1January 2018-27 March 2020) and during COVID-19 (28 March-31 October 2020). A linear regression prediction model was built to compare the observed versus predicted presentation number in the 2020 period. Results: In total, there were 108 104 paediatric ACSC ED presentations in Victoria during the study period. Females accounted for 51 462/108 104 (47.6%) of all presentations, with a median age of 3 years. A significant decrease in ED presentations was seen in 2020 (41 319 in 2018; 44 978 in 2019; and 21 807 until October 2020), predominantly due to reductions in conditions that are typically mediated by viruses in childhood (i.e. asthma, convulsions/epilepsy and ear, nose and throat conditions). The proportion of high-urgency presentations and those requiring admission was stable in 2020. Conclusions: An overall reduction in the number of ED presentations and admissions with paediatric ACSCs was seen in Victoria in 2020, indicating that rates of delayed or more severe presentations did not occur as a result of changes in out-of-hospital care.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)77-87
Number of pages11
JournalAustralian Health Review
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2022


  • Ambulatory Care Sensitive Conditions
  • Australia
  • COVID-19
  • emergency department
  • hospital admissions
  • linked data
  • paediatric
  • pandemic
  • SARSCoV2
  • Victoria

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