Parents may know best! A pilot study suggests that children of parents who do not have contact with health care professionals before attending the emergency department are triaged as more urgent Academic Article uri icon

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  • OBJECTIVE: To assess the influence of prehospital health care contact on triage acuity. METHODS: One hundred fifteen families were assigned Canadian Triage and Acuity Scale scores by a paediatric emergency department (ED) physician. Scores of children who had or had not seen a health care professional before attending the ED were compared. RESULTS: Sixty-two of 72 (86.1%) children without previous health care professional contact, and 30 of 43 (69.8%) children with contact were triaged as 'urgent' (P=0.034). Parents with first aid knowledge (29 of 43 [67.4%]) were more likely to have had contact with a health care professional before visiting the ED compared with those with no such knowledge (27 of 72 [37.5%]; P=0.003). CONCLUSION: Patients without previous health care professional contact were assigned more acute triage categories. Health care professionals may advise families to visit the ED more frequently than necessary, which could contribute to ED congestion. Incorporating a parental estimate of the degree of urgency of their child's complaint into triage procedures represents an intriguing and challenging possibility.


  • Scolnik, Dennis
  • Keogh, Kelly
  • Tuffman, Amanda
  • Palombo, Alessandra
  • Sam, Jonathan
  • Stephens, Derek
  • Atenafu, Eshetu

publication date

  • January 2011