Making choices: why parents present to the emergency department for non-urgent care
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Objectives: This study aims to provide a better understanding of the motivations and actions of parents of children with non-urgent injury or illness who attend the emergency department at a tertiary paediatric hospital seeking care. Design: A prospective questionnaire-based survey of 355 parents aimed to ascertain information about parent care-giving and care-seeking behaviours prior to presentation at the emergency department with their child. Results: A total of 355 parents were surveyed, representing 8% of the parents/carers presenting to the emergency department in a 3-month period for non-urgent (Australasian Triage System 4 and 5) care of their child. The factors identified were: parents rated their child's condition as moderate to very serious (242 (68%)); two-thirds of parents (234 (66%)) had sought advice prior to attending the emergency department; 54% (77) of the 137 children who attended with an injury presented promptly to emergency (ie, within 4 h of injury) whereas of the 216 presenting with an illness, 41% (88) presented within 2-7 days of the onset of the illness. Conclusions: This study displayed the accuracy of "parental triage," that is, parents assess their child's health and generally engage in appropriate care-giving and care-seeking behaviours before presenting to a paediatric emergency department. Highlighted are the deficiencies in current primary care services available to families and the perception that not all cases deemed as non-urgent by the emergency department are able to be dealt with in a primary care setting.
Archives of Disease in Childhood
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Clinical Nursing: Secondary (Acute Care)