Study objectives: No large study has addressed whether parents want to be present when invasive procedures are performed on their children in the emergency department. We conducted a survey to address this question.
Methods: The study used a self-administered, written survey consisting of 5 pediatric scenarios with increasing level of procedural invasiveness. Parents in an urban, teaching hospital ED waiting area were asked to participate.
Results: Of 407 persons asked to participate, 400 (98%) completed the survey. The number of parents expressing a desire to be present during a procedure performed on their child was 387 (97.5%) for venipuncture of the extremity, 375 (94.0%) for laceration repair, 341 (86.5%) for lumbar puncture, and 317 (80.9%) for endotracheal intubation. For a major resuscitation scenario, 316 (80.7%) wished to be present if their child were conscious during the resuscitation, 277 (71.4%) wanted to be present if their child were unconscious during the resuscitation, whereas 322 (83.4%) indicated a desire to be present if their child were likely to die during the resuscitation. Of the 400, 261 (65.3%) wished to be present for all 5 scenarios. Only 26 (6.5%) wanted the physician to determine parental presence in all 5 scenarios.
Conclusion: Most parents surveyed would want to be present when invasive procedures are performed on their children. With increasing procedural invasiveness, parental desire to be present decreased. However, most parents would want to be in attendance if their child were likely to die, and nearly all parents want to participate in the decision about their presence.