An examination of the unintended consequences of the rule-out sepsis evaluation: a parental perspective

Clin Pediatr (Phila). 2001 Feb;40(2):71-7. doi: 10.1177/000992280104000202.


In order to document unintended consequences of the "rule-out" sepsis (ROS) evaluation, a survey of parents of infants who had undergone such an evaluation at Primary Children's Medical Center in 1997 was conducted. Sixty parents were interviewed. Parental perceptions of the sepsis evaluation and its impact on their families were recorded. Specific data evaluated included parental anxiety, impact on breastfeeding, perceived complications, financial stress, and parental preferences. The majority of parents found the ROS evaluation very stressful. Parental perception of illness increased significantly after being told the infant would require an ROS evaluation, with nearly 30% of parents, after speaking with a physician, believing their infant might die. Breastfeeding problems were reported by 36% of the mothers. Iatrogenic complications were reported by 33%. Although all infants were covered by some form of insurance, 43% of parents reported financial stress. Forty-two percent of parents would have preferred to be treated at home and all parents would prefer an evaluation that could be accomplished in 24 hours. We conclude that unintended consequences of the ROS evaluation included excessive parental anxiety, cessation of breastfeeding, iatrogenic complications, and financial stress. Suggestions to decrease these adverse consequences are given.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Bacteremia / diagnosis
  • Bacteremia / microbiology
  • Breast Feeding / psychology
  • Breast Feeding / statistics & numerical data
  • Chi-Square Distribution
  • Female
  • Fever / diagnosis*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Parents / psychology*
  • Psychometrics / methods
  • Sepsis / diagnosis*
  • Sepsis / microbiology
  • Stress, Psychological / diagnosis
  • Stress, Psychological / psychology*