Aim: The aim of this study was to evaluate the effects of post-discharge telephone calls on the rate of emergency department (ED) visits within 3 days following hospitalisation in paediatric patients. Methods: Patients hospitalised on the Paediatric Service from May 2008 through December 2008 were included in the intervention group and patients hospitalised from May 2007 through December 2007 were included in the control group. Within 3 days of hospital discharge, nurse practitioners attempted daily to contact caregivers in the intervention group and asked children conditions and provided health information. Results: There were 643 patients in the intervention group and 642 patients in the control group, respectively. Characteristics of the intervention and control groups were similar with respect to age, sex and days of hospitalisation. Ninety-two per cent of patients in the intervention group received a telephone call from a nurse practitioner within 3 days of hospital discharge. Significantly fewer patients in the intervention group (3 patients, 0.47%) had a subsequent visit to the ED within 3 days of hospital discharge than in the control group (11 patients, 1.71%) (P= 0.034). Conclusions: Telephone follow-up is an effective way of providing health information, managing remaining symptoms, recognising complications, advising patients of medical alternatives and giving reassurance; this may reduce unnecessary patient ED visits.
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