Background: The global refugee crises have raised concerns among medical communities worldwide; nonetheless, access to healthcare has rarely been studied even though refugees are a medically high-risk group.
Objectives: To compare pediatric department admission rates from the pediatric emergency department (PED) of refugees and Israelis.
Methods: We compared data from refugee and Israeli children admitted to the pediatric department at Wolfson Medical Center in Israel between 2013–2017.
Results: A total of 104,244 patients (aged 0–18 years) came to the PED. Admission rate to the pediatric department for refugees was 695/2541 (27%) compared to 11,858/101,703 (11.7%) Israeli patients (P < 0.001). Hospital stay for patients 0–2-years of age was 3.22 ± 4.80 days for refugees vs. 2.78 ± 3.17 for Israelis (P < 0.03). Re-admission rate within 7 days was 1.3% for refugees and 2.6% for Israelis (P < 0.05). Dermatological diseases (e.g., impetigo and cellulitis) were more frequent in refugees (23.30% vs. 13.15%, P < 0.01); however, acute gastroenteritis and respiratory diagnoses were more common in Israelis (18.52% vs. 11.72%, P < 0.05 and 14.84% vs. 6.26%, P < 0.01, respectively). Neurological diseases (e.g., febrile convulsions) were also more frequent in Israelis (7.7% vs. 3%, P < 0.05). Very significantly, 23% of refugees had no healthcare coverage, while only 0.2% of the Israelis had none (P < 0.001).
Conclusions: We found significant morbidity in refugees compared to the local Israeli pediatric population, highlighting the need for different approaches for each population.