Aims: This study aimed to examine the effect of an educational intervention on discharge advice given to parents leaving the emergency department with a febrile child.
Background: Childhood fever is a common reason to seek emergency care. Many children are discharged from the emergency department with fever as a significant component of their illness; therefore, it is vital that emergency department medical and nursing staff provide accurate and reliable information about childhood fever management.
Design: A pre/post-test design was used. The outcome measure was parental advice regarding paediatric fever management and the intervention for the study was an educational intervention for emergency department nursing staff that consisted of two tutorials. Data were collected using structured telephone interviews.
Results: Data were collected from 22 families during the pretest period and 18 families during the post-test period. The number of parents leaving the emergency department with no advice decreased by 48% (p = 0.002). Reports of written advice increased by 69.7% (p < 0.001) and there was a 38.4% increase in reports of verbal advice (p = 0.014). Parents leaving the emergency department with both written and verbal advice increased from 0 to 55.6% (p < 0.001). Reports of advice by nursing staff increased by 52% (p < 0.001) and there were significant increases in specific instructions related to oral fluid administration (22.7 vs. 77.8, p = 0.001) and use of antipyretic medications (27.2 vs. 77.8, p = 0.001).
Conclusion: Evidence-based education of emergency nurses improved both the amount and quality of discharge advice for parents of febrile children.
Relevance to clinical practice: Parents and health care professionals alike need to better understand the physiological benefits of fever and the potential harmful effects of aggressive and often unwarranted treatment of fever.