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Pediatr Emerg Care. 1991 Aug;7(4):204-5.

Are parents accurate in their assessment of fluid volumes?

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Department of Pediatrics, Loyola University Medical School, Maywood, Illinois.


Ingestions constitute a common problem in pediatric emergency medicine. Management decisions are frequently based on parental assessments of the amount of the ingested material. The purpose of this study was to examine the accuracy of parental estimates of fluid volumes. One hundred parents of children seen in an outpatient clinic and emergency department were asked to estimate fluid volumes in four containers. There were no significant differences (P greater than 0.05) in the accuracy of fluid volume assessment between younger and older parents, between participants with and without high school education, or between parents with one or more children. While most parents are accurate in their fluid volume estimates, 14.5% of the assessments were overestimates of over 300% of the actual volume. In view of our findings, caution should be used when management decisions are being based on parental fluid volume estimates.

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