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Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 2000 Apr;154(4):355-60.

Appropriateness of urgent referrals by nurses at a hospital-based pediatric call center.

Author information

1
Department of Pediatrics, University of Colorado Health Sciences Center, Denver, USA.

Abstract

OBJECTIVES:

To evaluate (1) the appropriateness of the after-hours referral (AHR), (2) clinical characteristics of urgently referred patients, and (3) parental compliance with disposition recommendations by the After-Hours Call Center of the Children's Hospital, Denver, Colo.

SUBJECTS:

Patients of Denver, Colo, pediatricians who called after office hours were triaged by nurses using a computerized triage system, and were referred for after-hours evaluation to 1 of 5 urgent care sites (N = 409).

DESIGN:

Data were collected at each site for 2-week periods every 3 months, from October 1996 to October 1997 (total study period, 10 weeks). Appropriateness of AHRs (diagnoses, clinical interventions, and final dispositions) were determined by a questionnaire that was completed by the evaluating physician. Parental compliance with the AHR was assessed by review of the after-hours site patient database and by telephone survey.

RESULTS:

Of the referred patients, 339 (82.9%) complied with the recommendation for AHR and, of these, physician questionnaires were completed for 332 (97.9%). The mean percentage of evaluated patients judged appropriate was 90.7% and did not differ statistically by site or by physician training. A history indicating a potentially serious condition was the most common reason for judging a referral appropriate (80.1%), followed by patient discomfort (53.3%), findings from a physical examination (42.5%), parental anxiety (41.5%), and an urgent need for diagnostic test or therapy (34.7%). Of evaluated patients, 37.0% had a diagnostic test, and in 43.5% of cases, the evaluating physician thought a therapeutic intervention was necessary that night. Of the total sample, 93.4% were discharged and 6.6% were admitted to the hospital. The major reasons given by families for noncompliance were lack of understanding of the disposition recommendation and disagreement with the need for urgent referral.

CONCLUSIONS:

Approximately 90% of patients who complied with a referral for urgent evaluation by the After-Hours Call Center were judged by the evaluating physician to have been appropriately referred. The appropriateness rate for all referrals may be lower if there is significant self-selection in those families who do not comply.

PMID:
10768672
DOI:
10.1001/archpedi.154.4.355
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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