Parents' and carers' impression of "quality" within a Paediatric Emergency Department

BMC Pediatr. 2021 Jul 13;21(1):313. doi: 10.1186/s12887-021-02752-7.


Background: Quality improvement systems are needed to overcome the 'Quality Gap' - difference between evidence-based guidelines and the care delivered. While there are a large array of potential quality assurance measures exists in the Paediatric Emergency Department, parent's/carer's perception of these is unknown. This study aimed to identify what 'quality of care' means to parents/carers of Paediatric Emergency Department (PED) patients, further determine which aspects of these are most important to them. Also, to identify which of the existing PED quality measures are most important to parents/carers, and their preferred method of providing feedback.

Methods: A Modified Rand-Delphi study was performed with parents/carers as the expert group and consensus was obtained from them via three web-based surveys. All parents/carers of children attending a tertiary paediatric hospital during six-week in winter were eligible- no exclusions. Quality measures scoring at least 7 on a 9-point Likert scale during the final survey were considered "very important", while those scoring at least an 8 were considered "extremely important".

Results: One hundred four parents/carers responded from a total of 1095 participants. Parents/carers generated 527 free text entries, to the initial survey on what 'quality of care' means. These were mapped to 48 quality measure which they ranked on subsequent surveys. Eighteen quality measures were considered very important by at least 90% of respondents. Of these, six were considered extremely important by at least 70% of respondents: 'Thorough medical assessment' (84%); 'A triage system' (84%); 'Experienced and knowledgeable staff that are skilled in paediatrics' (77%); 'Resources and equipment available to provide care' (72%); and 'Clear follow up plans and reviews that are communicated and scheduled' (72%). Parents/carers considered existing quality measures as important with 'timely treatment of a critical condition' as the most important. Most participants preferred to provide anonymous feedback (N = 69, 66%), online (N = 77, 72%) after discharge (N = 82, 70%).

Conclusion: We have elicited what 'quality of care' means to parents/carers, and which aspects are most important to them. Parents/carers consider commonly used PED quality measure as very important. However, they are less important than outcomes generated by themselves. Further parents/carers in this study preferred to provide feedback that was anonymous and electronically distributed after they leave the ED.

Keywords: Emergency department; Feedback; Paediatrics; Patient satisfaction; Quality assurance.

MeSH terms

  • Caregivers*
  • Child
  • Emergency Service, Hospital
  • Hospitals, Pediatric
  • Humans
  • Parents*
  • Triage