Introduction: Unscheduled visits (UV) are defined as visits to the family pediatrician (FP) without an appointment or when the appointment was made less than 24h before. Because the number of FPs has decreased since the 2000s, the FP might be less available for UVs and that might be one of the reasons for the increase in emergency department visits.
Objectives: The main objective of the study was to evaluate the proportion of UVs among visits with a FP. The secondary objective was to describe the daily activity of FPs.
Methods: In February 2012, e-mail requests were sent to 1022 FPs, asking them to complete an anonymous questionnaire online at the website of the French Association of Pediatricians in Outpatient Practice (AFPA). The questionnaire was about 1 day of activity.
Results: A total of 434 FPs participated in the study (42.5%). Among the 10,263 visits a day conducted by these FPs, 4574 were UVs (44.6% [95% CI: 43.6-45.5]). Two hundred and fifty FPs (59.5%) could not conduct one or more UVs because of a lack of availability. The number of children who were not treated on the same day because of a lack of availability was 959, i.e., 2.2 children per day and pediatrician. An absence of off-hour pediatricians in outpatient practice during weekends and during the night was reported by 61% (266) and 90% (391) of the FPs, respectively.
Conclusion: FPs' activity includes a considerable number of UVs. However, a large number of UVs could not be made because of a lack of pediatricians' availability.
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