Document Type



School of Nursing and Midwifery, East Africa


Introduction: Patients’ unscheduled return visits (URVs) to the paediatric emergency Centre (PEC) contribute to overcrowding and affect health service delivery and overall quality of care. This study assessed the characteristics and outcomes of paediatric patients with URVs (within 72 hours) to the PEC at a private tertiary hospital in Kenya.

Methods: We conducted a retrospective chart review of all URVs within 72 hours among paediatric patients aged ≤15 years between 1 July and 31 December 2018 at the tertiary hospital in Nairobi, Kenya.

Results: During the study period, 1.6% (n=172) of patients who visited the PEC returned within 72 hours, with 4.7% revisiting the PEC more than once. Patients’ median age was 36 months (interquartile range: 42 months); over half were male (51.7%), 55.8% were ambulatory and 84.3% were insured. In addition, 21% (n=36) had chronic diseases and 7% (n=12) had drug allergies. Respiratory (59.5%) and gastrointestinal (21.5%) tract infections were the most common diagnoses. Compared with the first visit, more patients with URVs were classified as urgent (1.7% vs. 5.2%) and were non-ambulatory (44.2% vs. 49.5%, p=<0.001); 18% of these patients were admitted. Of these 58% were male, 83.9% were aged 0–5 years, 12.9% were classified as urgent, 64.5% had respiratory tract infections and 16.1% had gastrointestinal tract infections. Being admitted was associated with patient acuity (p=0.004), laboratory tests (p=<0.001) and ambulatory status (p=0.041).

Conclusion: The URV rate is low in our setting. Patients who returned to the PEC within 72 hours tended to be male, under 5 years old and insured. Many were non-urgent cases with diagnoses of respiratory and gastrointestinal tract infections. The findings suggest that some URVs were necessary and may have contributed to better care and improved outcomes while others highlight a need for effective patient education and comprehensive initial assessment.

Publication (Name of Journal)

African Journal of Emergency Medicine

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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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Nursing Commons