Original Article

CME Article: Descriptive Epidemiology of Pediatric Drowning Patients Presenting to a Large Southern US Children’s Hospital

Authors: Alicia C. Webb, MD, Austin Wheeler, MD, Alexis Ricci, MD, Blake Foxworthy, MD, Brittany Hinten, BS, Nipam Shah, MBBS, MPH, Kathy W. Monroe, MD, MSQI, Michele H. Nichols, MD


Objectives: Drowning is the leading cause of death for children ages 1 to 4, and it is among the leading causes of death for children of all ages. National data show disparities in drowning risk for certain racial groups. This study aimed to describe characteristics of patients presenting after a drowning event to guide focused drowning prevention outreach efforts.

Methods: This was a retrospective chart review study designed to analyze the epidemiologic and demographic characteristics of drowning-related injuries and deaths that presented to a large, urban, southern US pediatric hospital from 2016 to 2019. All patients aged 0 to 19 years were identified using International Classification of Diseases, Ninth Revision and Tenth Revision codes for drowning or submersion injuries.

Results: One hundred sixty-two patients met the inclusion criteria for the study. Submersion injuries were most common in the 1- to 5-year-old age group. Fifty-eight percent of patients were male. The analysis of race showed that 65% of patients were White and 33% of patients were Black. Pools were the setting for 78% of drowning events. Fifty-four percent of patients received cardiopulmonary resuscitation. Sixty-four percent of patients required hospitalization after the injury.

Conclusions: Characteristics of drowning victims may vary significantly from national data, depending on the area involved. This finding highlights the need for assessing local data to better inform local outreach. Further research is necessary to understand why such variance exists. Drowning prevention education, tailored toward pool safety and preschool-age children, should be a focus of injury prevention efforts.

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