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Parental Perception of Urgency of Illness

Kalidindi, Shiva MBBS, MS*; Mahajan, Prashant MD, MPH, MBA; Thomas, Ronald PhD; Sethuraman, Usha MD

doi: 10.1097/PEC.0b013e3181ea71b3
Original Articles

Objective: To assess parental perception of urgency of illness and compare this with an emergency department (ED) physician's assessment of the same.

Methods: A prospective study was conducted on convenience sample of parents/legal guardians of 800 patients presenting to the pediatric ED. Parents and physicians were asked to classify the urgency of their child's illness.

Results: For this study, we grouped the urgency of illness as "urgent" (care needed within 24 hours) and "nonurgent" (care could safely wait until the next day). Ninety-four percent of parents considered their child's illness as urgent and 6% as nonurgent. Of the patients whose parents perceived the illness as nonurgent, 31% were assessed by physicians as requiring urgent attention.

Conclusions: In our study, there was a significant discrepancy between the parental perceptions of urgency of illness and the ED physician assessment of the same. A significant proportion of children whose visits are perceived as nonurgent do require urgent care.

From the *Department of Pediatrics, Division of Pediatric Emergency Medicine, Children's Hospital of Western Ontario, University of Western Ontario, London, Ontario, Canada; and †Department of Pediatrics, Division of Pediatric Emergency Medicine, Children's Hospital of Michigan, Detroit, MI.

Reprints: Shiva Kalidindi, MBBS, MS, 580 Cuthbert Cir, London, Ontario, Canada N6M 1K6 (e-mail: drshiva@gmail.org).

This study was supported by the Ashok and Ingrid Sarnaik Endowment for Resident and Fellow Research. Children Hospital of Michigan, Detroit, MI.

© 2010 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.