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