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Journal of Nursing Research and Practice

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Understanding presentations of children with fever to a Sydney emergency department

Author(s): Muhammad Alqudah*, Bonyan Qudah, Leanne Cowin, Ajesh George and Maree Johnson

Background: Fever is a common childhood illness resulting in a potentially high number of presentations to local Emergency Departments (ED). This paper describes the characteristics of these presentations of children, including initial and subsequent diagnosis, disposition from ED and seasonal variations, to inform nursing and other health professionals working within these departments. Methods: The study was conducted at a metropolitan hospital in Sydney, using existing data collected by emergency staff. Data for a 12-month period were extracted from the existing database of all ED presentations.

Results: This study demonstrated that the age of the majority of febrile child presentations varied between 13 months and 24 months (53%), and the number of ED visits doubled during the winter months (33%). Most of the child presentations to ED in this study were not urgent (68%). Viral illness, upper respiratory tract infections, and urinary tract infections accounted for 14.9 % of all the ED presentations, with most being discharged to home.

Conclusion: This study confirms the continuing pattern of inappropriate presentations to EDs of children with fever. Public education campaigns are needed to reduce these presentations.

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