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Parents bring kids to ERs for non-urgent treatment

Author James Dunsford
Submitted 26-11-2008

Fathers and mothers are increasingly using emergency rooms to treat their children’s non-urgent health concerns, a new study reveals.

Research published in the journal Academic Pediatrics suggests that there are a variety of reasons that parents may choose the ER over the doctor’s office – such as a shorter wait time and a perception of more efficient service.

According to study co-author Dr Jane M. Brotanek, the findings suggest that "the system needs improvement."

She said that participants identified a number of problems with their primary care physcian, including waiting too long to get an appointment, encountering a negative attitude and communication problems.

The report found that some doctors even referred patients to the emergency room instead of treating them.

Brotanek emphasized that following this parenting advice may lead to overstretched ERs, which may delay treatment for everyone.

Doctors could potentially improve the system by offering same-day appointments for certain conditions, providing longer office hours and giving better instructions for handling routine problems at home, she suggested.

Last month, separate research published in the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine found that pediatricians are more likely to admit errors if they would already be obvious to the family in question.