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Parental satisfaction with waiting time in a Swiss tertiary paediatric emergency department
  1. Viola Löflath1,2,3,
  2. Eva-Maria Hau2,4,5,
  3. Daniel Garcia2,
  4. Steffen Berger3,
  5. Ruth Löllgen2
  1. 1Department of Pediatrics, Klinikum Dritter Orden, Munich, Germany
  2. 2Department of Emergency Medicine, Inselspital, University Hospital, Bern, Switzerland
  3. 3Department of Pediatric Surgery, Inselspital, University of Bern, Bern, Switzerland
  4. 4Department of Pediatrics, Inselspital, University Hospital, Bern, Switzerland
  5. 5Kinderspital Luzern, Luzern, Switzerland
  1. Correspondence to Viola Löflath, Department of Pediatrics, Klinikum Dritter Orden, Munich, Germany; viola.loeflath{at}


Introduction Patient numbers in paediatric emergency departments (PED) are steadily increasing. Parental perception of waiting time and reasons for attending a PED with non-emergencies have been investigated in the UK, Australia, Korea, Canada and the USA. We sought to examine which factors influence parental satisfaction with waiting time in a tertiary Swiss PED and whether these differed from other countries.

Methods Paper surveys were administered to parents of children presenting to our interdisciplinary PED from February to May 2015. Primary outcome was parental satisfaction with waiting time, secondary outcomes were satisfaction with treatment, parental reasons for presentation with non-emergencies, parental perception of times to triage, first physician contact and disposition from ED, level of physician training, understanding of various anticrowding strategies and comparison of perceived and true waiting times to triage and physician contact.

Results 739 out of 750 surveys were returned (57 complete, 298 with 1 or 2 missing answers). Satisfaction with waiting time (on a 5-point-Likert-scale; 1 being the best possible answer) was higher in groups with shorter waiting time until triage (+0.41, p=0.001), first physician contact (+1.43, p<0.001) and discharge (+0.71, p<0.001), higher triage category urgency (+0.47, p=0.044) and available entertainment (+0.82, p<0.001). Early first physician contact (+0.33, p=0.008) and time to discharge less than 4 hours (+0.37, p<0.001) was associated with greater satisfaction with treatment (p<0.05). The most frequent reasons for presentation were parental impression that the child had an emergency (n=265, 35.9%) and referral by the family doctor (n=245, 33.2%).

Conclusion To counteract parental dissatisfaction associated with waiting time, we suggest the implementation of feasible measures including entertainment while waiting, early first medical review and timely discharge from the PED.

  • triage
  • emergency care systems
  • emergency departments
  • emergency care systems
  • efficiency
  • emergency department
  • emergency department management

Statistics from


  • Handling editor Mary Dawood

  • Contributors VL and RL: conception and draftig of the work, final approval, accountable for all respects of the work. SB: revising critically. E-MH: analysis and interpretation of the work. DG: revising critically.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

  • Ethics approval The Human Research Ethics Committee at Inselspital Bern and canton Bern approved the present study. There were no direct benefits or conflict of interests for the authors.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Data availability statement All data relevant to the study are included in the article or uploaded as online supplemental information. All data available at the authors. All data are deidentified paticipant data. Contact to ORCID ID 0000-0003-0781-7083. Reuse is not permitted.

  • Supplemental material This content has been supplied by the author(s). It has not been vetted by BMJ Publishing Group Limited (BMJ) and may not have been peer-reviewed. Any opinions or recommendations discussed are solely those of the author(s) and are not endorsed by BMJ. BMJ disclaims all liability and responsibility arising from any reliance placed on the content. Where the content includes any translated material, BMJ does not warrant the accuracy and reliability of the translations (including but not limited to local regulations, clinical guidelines, terminology, drug names and drug dosages), and is not responsible for any error and/or omissions arising from translation and adaptation or otherwise.

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