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As children with chronic rheumatic illnesses age, it’s important that they experience a smooth transition from pediatric to adult care. A study published in Arthritis Care & Research has identified certain factors that are important during this time.
In the study of 141 pediatric patients who transferred to an adult rheumatology clinic, continued insurance coverage, and referral from a pediatric rheumatologist decreased delays in attending an adult rheumatology visit.
Pediatric patients with connective tissue diseases (such as lupus) or of Black race were especially vulnerable to unscheduled hospitalizations and emergency department visits following the transfer to adult care.
“The majority of patients in this study had public or no insurance during their pediatric course. It is especially important to ensure that vulnerable transition-age patients have a plan for insurance coverage and an identified adult rheumatologist prior to the transfer to adult care,” said lead author Nicole Bitencourt, MD, of UT Southwestern Medical Center. “It may be helpful for pediatric rheumatologists to have a system in place to ensure patients are not lost to follow up before establishing care with an adult rheumatologist.”