Pediatric asthma care in the emergency department: measuring the quality of history-taking and discharge planning

J Asthma. 1999;36(1):129-38. doi: 10.3109/02770909909065156.


The National Asthma Education and Prevention Program NAEPP Guidelines include recommendations for history-taking and discharge planning during an asthma visit, but there are no tools to measure performance. The objectives of this study were to define and operationalize key elements of history-taking and discharge planning, to develop a tool for measuring these elements, and to evaluate the quality of history-taking and discharge planning in the emergency department (ED) during visits for asthma using the new tool. Expert opinion and extensive literature review were used to develop a 13-item checklist containing items that should be documented during history-taking and provided during discharge planning for an ED visit for an acute asthma exacerbation by children. A convenience sample of 90 pediatric emergency medicine physicians and allergists rated each item in the checklist. The checklist was used to score audiotapes of asthma visits in the ED. Subjects were 154 parents of asthmatic children aged 4-9 years seeking care in nine inner-city EDs affiliated with asthma centers participating in the National Cooperative Inner-City Asthma Study and the physician/providers who delivered care. Seven of the 13 items on the checklist were rated as required to be performed by more than 90% of the allergist/pediatric emergency medicine physicians. Only 10% of the 154 visits included all seven of the highly rated items, whereas 19% of the visits included three or fewer. Only 7 of the 13 items (54%) were performed in more than 50% of the visits, and 4 items were performed in fewer than 25% of visits. Based on expert ratings, the checklist for measuring elements of history-taking and discharge planning during asthma visits appears to have considerable face validity. In the visits studied, the overall performance of these elements was low. Interventions to improve performance on the checklist might lead to improved care for children with asthma who frequent the ED.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Asthma / therapy*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Emergency Medical Services / standards*
  • Emergency Service, Hospital / standards
  • Feasibility Studies
  • Humans
  • Immunologic Techniques
  • Medical Audit
  • Medical Records / standards*
  • Patient Discharge / standards*
  • Pediatrics / methods*
  • Physicians
  • Quality of Health Care*
  • Tape Recording