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Arch Pediatr. 1996 Oct;3(10):964-8.

[Telephonic advice by an emergency department given in a simulated pediatric case].

[Article in French]

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D├ępartement accueil-urgences, Centre hospitalier de Poissy, France.



Emergency departments (ED) are requested everyday to dispense medical telephone advice for children. To evaluate the quality of telephone management, a mock scenario simulating a febrile 4 month-old-girl with signs compatible with septicemia was used.


One hundred randomly selected French emergency departments were called on. Half of the hospitals had a pediatric department with more than 20 beds; the other half did not have a pediatric department. A research technician called and said: "My baby has got fever and I do not know what to do". Additional information was given only on request.


Ninety-four ED gave medical advice by telephone: 65% of the cases by a physician, 24.5% by a nurse, 9.5% by a nurse technician and 1% by a secretary. In hospitals without a pediatric department, physicians took calls in 76.5% of the cases, whereas in hospitals with a pediatric department they only took calls in 53% of the cases. The mean number of questions asked per ED was 3.1. The age of the child was requested by 87.2% of the respondents. Advice was given by 36.1% of the ED without asking either the age of the patient or grade of the fever. The advice given by the respondents was: come to the ED immediately (30.9%), see a community physician immediately (51%), come to the ED tomorrow (2.1%), see a community physician tomorrow (8.5%), and manage at home (7.5%).


This study has shown important inadequacies in pediatric telephone advice given by some ED. It suggests that the respondents do not use a protocol to handle the calls; development of such protocols to guide the histories taken and advice given for the most common telephone queries is urged.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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