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Parent Errors Following Physician Instruction

Am J Dis Child. 1988;142(4):415-416. doi:10.1001/archpedi.1988.02150040065014.
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Sir.—When parents misunderstand a physician's instructions, they are more likely to err, worry needlessly, and make unnecessary telephone calls. Hoping to reduce telephone overuse, I sought to identify the types of errors most commonly made and possible predisposing factors.

Patients and Methods.—I studied 52 consecutive mother-child visits (for an acute illness or injury) to a three-physician private pediatric practice. Mothers had a median age of 33.1 years and a median education of 15.4 years, and had been enrolled in the practice for an average of 3.9 years. Fifteen mothers (29%) stated that I was their "usual" physician.

Mothers were asked by a medical student observer to participate in a physician-patient interaction study. The specific goals of the study were not stated. Every mother agreed to participate.

After completing the evaluation, I carefully explained (1) the diagnosis, (2) the treatment (name of drug, dose, interval, and duration), (3) when


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The American Medical Association is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education to provide continuing medical education for physicians. The AMA designates this journal-based CME activity for a maximum of 1 AMA PRA Category 1 CreditTM per course. Physicians should claim only the credit commensurate with the extent of their participation in the activity. Physicians who complete the CME course and score at least 80% correct on the quiz are eligible for AMA PRA Category 1 CreditTM.
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