Background: Parents invited to accompany their children to the anaesthetic room have no prior preparation or discussion about what is expected from them.The majority think that they are expected to come and that it is their given right.The escorting ward staff are inadequately informed of their own and parental role during the induction of anaesthesia, hence the poor communication with the child's parent.
Audit aims: Compliance with The Royal college of Anaesthetists and the Association of Anaesthetists of Great Britain and Ireland publication, ‘Your Child's General Anaesthetic’. Were parents satisfied that their presence helped their child, aware that accompanying the child is the discretion of the most senior anaesthetist on that list and that they may be asked to leave anaesthetic room in an emergency?
Materials and Methods: Three independent auditors gathered information over a period of three months from 59 randomly selected parents of children between the age of 1and16 years, presenting for an emergency or an elective day case surgery. Parents were consented and assured of confidentiality while completing a 14 point questionnaire which was used to judge their responses in the recovery room and wards.
Results and Discussion: Forty two percent of children were 1-5 years old, 93% presented for an elective day case surgery.Thirty one percent of parents were accompanied to theatres by untrained staff.Fifteen percent of parents were unaware of their role in the peri-induction period while 15% were not keen on accompanying their children, out of those 3% felt under pressure to accompany their children.Seventy percent of children requested the company of their parents.Ninety four percent of parents felt that their presence helped their child. Emotions expressed by the accompanying parents ranged from pleasing, relieving to distressing, upsetting or worrying experience. Most (58%) of the parents were unaware that they may be asked to leave theatres in case of anaesthetic emergency. Only 63 % knew that it was senior anaesthetist's discretion to allow them to be in the anaesthetic room.
Conclusion: It is a stressful experience for parents to accompany their children into the anaesthetic room. Although in hindsight parents viewed it as a positive experience as it made them feel that they were present to help and support their children. The audit showed that parents need to be more informed and supported to fulfill this role.