Patient dissatisfaction in a paediatric accident and emergency department

J Qual Clin Pract. 1994 Sep;14(3):137-43.


This paper presents a review of the patient complaints and those who walked out prior to receiving care in the Accident and Emergency (A&E) Department of the Children's Hospital, Camperdown. The walkout rate was 1.7% (424/27,082) in 1992. Walkouts were greatest in winter when the department was busiest, peak period being between 2000 and 0200 hours. The waiting time was presented as the main reason for walking out. Most parents were prepared to wait the advertised waiting time before leaving. The presenting complaints of children who were not seen covered a spectrum of illnesses with the potential for significant morbidity. The majority, however, were triaged as non-urgent cases. Despite attempts to follow up on walkouts, the outcome for 53% of patients was unknown. Written complaints were fewer in number and tended to focus more on the quality of care (66.6%). There were few recorded compliments. With the increasing customer focus on health, greater attention needs to be given to system failures.

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Emergency Service, Hospital / standards*
  • Emergency Service, Hospital / statistics & numerical data
  • Hospitals, Pediatric / standards*
  • Hospitals, Pediatric / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • New South Wales
  • Patient Satisfaction / statistics & numerical data*
  • Quality of Health Care / standards*
  • Seasons
  • Time Factors