Aims The objective of this study is to assess the sensitivity and specificity of parental perception of pyrexia – without measuring with a thermometer - on attendance to the paediatric ED, as many parents were anecdotally noted to treat pyrexia without objective measurement. The NICE guideline Feverish illness in children: Assessment and initial management in children younger than 5 years (CG160) recommends that reported parental perception of a fever should be considered valid and taken seriously by healthcare professionals.
Methods This study was approved by the institutional Ethics Board. This was a prospective observational study. Children of triage category 2 or lower who presented with a non-trauma related presentation were invited to participate through their parents. As part of nursing triage prior to measuring the child’s temperature parents were asked if they thought that their child had a temperature currently – and why they thought this.
Results 278 valid records were returned. 60% (n=168) were male, and 75% (n=211) were Irish. Just over 7% (n=20) were admitted as inpatients to the hospital. Antipyretics were administered at home for fever in 53% of children, with 31% of children given two antipyretics prior to attendance. Only 12.9% of children included in the study were pyrexic (body temperature³ 38° Celsius). Parents, however, felt that 23.7% (n=66) children were pyrexic. Just under 84.5% of parents were correct in their assessment of their child’s fever, giving parental assessment of pyrexia (without a thermometer) a sensitivity of 81% and a specificity of 85%.
Conclusion Parental perception of the presence of pyrexia in paediatric patients attending our Emergency Department was sensitive and specific however further analysis needs to be performed.
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