• Parental Decisions regarding pre-hospital therapy and costing of the Emergency Department Visit

      McGovern, M; Kernan, R; O’Neill, M B (Irish Medical Journal, 2017-02)
      Paediatric patients represent a large percentage of Emergency Department (ED) visits and there is often a perception that the acuity of these presentations is low. The decision-making process that results in parents attending the ED is poorly understood. We designed a cross-sectional cohort study to explore the reasons for attendance, the treatment initiated at home and to assess parental perception of the economic cost of attendance. Data was collected on 200 patients using a survey administered to parents in ED with a follow-up phone call 4-6 weeks later. Our results suggest that attendances are often prompted by parental anxiety rather than clinical deterioration and that prior ED usage is common among those presenting for assessment. Many parents had attempted community therapy with 128/200 patients (64%) having been referred by a healthcare professional and medical therapy at home having been employed by 114/200 (57%) parents before attendance. Parental knowledge of the safety of over-the-counter medications was variable the economic cost of an ED visit was poorly understood by participants. The results of our study suggest that parental desire for control over worrisome symptoms drives much of their management strategy prior to hospital attendance. Strategies in the ED may need to focus more on managing parental expectations than on managing the illness itself and management strategies employed should focus not only on medical therapy of the child’s illness but on educating and empowering the parent.