Parental recall after a visit to the emergency department

Clin Pediatr (Phila). 1994 Apr;33(4):194-201. doi: 10.1177/000992289403300401.


Using exit interviews, we determined parental recall of their child's diagnosis, treatment, and follow-up instructions after a visit to the emergency department (ED). Over 2 weeks, 159 parents were interviewed. Exclusion criteria were: parental language other than Spanish or English, admission, trauma, child abuse, or a primary psychiatric diagnosis. Neither language nor parental satisfaction with communication (reported in 93%) was associated with ability to state the diagnosis correctly (P = NS). Seventy-five percent (88 of 117) of parents of children given a single diagnosis stated it correctly; 55% (23 of 42) of parents of children given multiple diagnoses were able to correctly state them all (P = 0.013). If a single medication was prescribed, 30% (20 of 67) of parents knew its name, while only 13% (four of 31) knew all names of multiple medications (P = 0.070). Of those parents given a single medication, 51% (34 of 67) knew how to administer it, while only 10% (three of 31) knew how to administer multiple medications (P < 0.001). Similarly, 58% (46 of 79) of parents given a single appointment knew the date and place of their child's follow-up, while only 16% (three of 19) given multiple appointments knew all dates and locations (P = 0.001). These data suggest that despite high parental satisfaction with communication, many parents cannot fully recall their child's diagnosis, treatment, and follow-up--especially when multiple diagnoses, medications, or appointments are given.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • California
  • Child, Preschool
  • Communication
  • Emergency Service, Hospital / standards*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Male
  • Medical Staff, Hospital / standards*
  • Mental Recall*
  • Parents / psychology*
  • Patient Compliance
  • Patient Satisfaction / statistics & numerical data*
  • Professional-Family Relations*