Telephone consultations are a part of everyday practice; they provide a possibility of solving some health problems without the necessity of a visit to the surgery office.
Aim The aim of the study was to find reasons for telephone consultations concerning health problems in children aged 0–18 years.
Materials and Methods We analysed telephone consultations in one private primary care practice in Warsaw. The doctor reported details connected with consultation (the reason, age of the child, instructions for a patient that followed the consultation, duration of consultation). The observations were performed from July to December.
Results In total 187 telephone consultations were given. The mean time of duration of a telephone consultation was 4 minutes (79% lasted less than 5 minutes). The most common reason for telephone consultations was interpretation of laboratory tests (37%), clinical problems connected with diarrhoea or/and vomiting (29%), fever (18%). Of total calls, 51% callers were given home care instructions, 26% were told to contact the doctor the next day, 22% were referred to a doctor the same day, 1% were told to call the emergency services. Neither doctors nor parents observed serious mistakes concerning diagnosis or recommendations given by phone.
Conclusions Most of telephone consultations concerning health problems in children did not result in referring a patient to a doctor or a hospital. It is necessary to continue observations in more practices in order to learn the reasons for telephone consultations and create an optimal algorithm of management—to provide the best safety to patients.