To compare the assessments of parents and respiratory therapists (RTs) of acute asthma severity in children discharged after emergency department (ED) treatment.
Prospective cohort study.
Home care visit within 24 hours of discharge from an urban children's hospital ED.
Children aged 2 to 17 years discharged to home after treatment in the ED (at least 1 inhaled bronchodilator treatment administered) were randomly selected to have a home care visit.
Main Outcome Measures
Registered RTs went to the child's home and asked the parent questions about his or her perception of the child's symptoms. The RT performed a clinical assessment including pulse oximetry.
Ninety children were selected for home care, and 51 patients (57%) successfully completed the home care visit; 48 (53%) underwent a complete assessment by both raters. There were no differences in demographic features or ED clinical variables between those successfully contacted and those not reached. Of those evaluated, 43 parents (84%) reported their child's asthma was improved, and the rest reported no change. Parents underestimated the degree of wheezing or work of breathing relative to the RT in 3 of 48 patients (6%), but only 1 of these was considered substantial (>1 point discrepancy). Findings were overestimated in 14 (29%) of 48 cases, but only 5 (10%) were substantial.
Parents and RTs provide comparable assessments of acute asthma severity in children within 24 hours of discharge from the ED. Clinically important discrepancies are uncommon, and underestimation of severity by parents is rare.