Objectives: We compare the rate of return to the emergency department (ED) within 72 hours between families of children receiving a follow-up telephone call by a non-health care provider asking about the child's well-being 12 hours after their visit to the ED and families not receiving a follow-up call.
Methods: This was a prospective, randomized study in which we conducted a follow-up call starting at 12 hours after discharge from the ED versus no call for follow-up. At 96 hours after discharge, we contacted all recruited families. We recorded the rate of return to the ED within 72 hours of discharge.
Results: Of 371 families in the data analysis, 46% were in the study group, and 55.5% were male patients. Mean age was 5.7 years. The outcome measure was found to be in contrary to our hypothesis. We found return visits to the ED in 24 (14%) of the children in the study group compared with only 14 (7%) in the control group (P < 0.03). All other parameters were not statistically different between the groups.
Conclusions: Emergency departments practicing follow-up calls by non-health care providers should consider a forecasted increase in return rates.