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Transitioning Children with Complex Healthcare Needs to Home


A new clinical report from the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends ways to manage the home care and care transitions of special-needs pediatric patients.1 As many as 10 million U.S. children have special needs based on prematurity, congenital disorders, developmental needs, technology dependencies, and “medical complexity.” Although they often have prolonged hospitalizations, most will go home.

In addition to recommendations for providing home care to keep children safe at home, the report explores complexities of the transition from the hospital—how to send children home with appropriate support, the importance of connecting them with a medical home, ensuring that parents are adequately trained to provide care, and evaluating community support.

Two key issues that can be addressed while a child with complex needs is still in the hospital are involving the primary-care physician (PCP) in discharge planning and making a candid appraisal of the family’s desire and ability to provide complex care at home.


  1. Elias ER, Murphy NA, Council on Children with Disabilities. Home care of children and youth with complex health care needs and technology dependencies. Pediatrics. 2012;129:996-1005.

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