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Professional telephone advice to parents with sick children: Time for quality control

Andrews, Jacqueline K., Armstrong, Kenneth L., & Fraser, Jennifer A. (2002) Professional telephone advice to parents with sick children: Time for quality control. Journal of Paediatrics and Child Health, 38(1), pp. 23-26.

Abstract

Objective: To assess the quality of professional telephone advice given to parents with sick children. Methods: All hospitals with an emergency department and a paediatric ward and a designated child health telephone advice line in the greater Brisbane region were invited to participate in the study. Case scenarios involving a febrile baby, a 14-month-old with gastroenteritis and an 18-month-old with a head injury were used three times with each institution. Each of the cases should have elicited a response indicating the need for urgent medical attention. A research assistant presented the symptoms in accordance with the questions of the telephone advice-giver. Aspects of the call were recorded, including time between call made and access to advice-giver, profession of advice-giver, identifying details sought by advice-giver, questions asked about the case presented, length of call, and advice-given. Results: Of the 10 hospitals asked, six agreed to participate. Included in the study were two paediatric hospitals, two general public hospitals, one private hospital, and a Statewide-designated child health telephone advice line. Calls were generally attended to promptly. Only 37 (68.5%) of the advisers recognized the urgency of the case scenarios, with the febrile infant having the least likelihood of eliciting the correct advice (39%). Doctors gave more reliable advice than nurses in the fever scenario, but not in the other cases. Conclusions: Telephone advice to parents with sick children is easily accessible, but is often dangerously inappropriate. There is a need for tighter quality control and/or for a centralised telephone advice line to prevent inappropriate advice being given to parents.

Impact and interest:

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8 citations in Web of Science®

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ID Code: 8801
Item Type: Journal Article
Additional Information: For more information, please refer to the journal's website (see hypertext link) or contact the author. Author contact details: j.fraser@qut.edu.au
Additional URLs:
ISSN: 1034-4810
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > MEDICAL AND HEALTH SCIENCES (110000) > PUBLIC HEALTH AND HEALTH SERVICES (111700) > Community Child Health (111704)
Divisions: Current > Research Centres > Centre for Health Research
Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Health
Current > Institutes > Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2002 The Authors; Journal compilation Copyright 2002 Paediatrics and Child Health Division (Royal Australasian College of Physicians)
Deposited On: 26 Jul 2007
Last Modified: 09 Jun 2010 22:43

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