Substantial amounts of working parents chose urgent care or emergency department visits when their sick children were excluded from attending childcare, according to a new University of Michigan study. The study found that the use of these outlets was significantly higher among single or divorced parents, African Americans, or those who have job concerns. The study was published in the most recent issue of Pediatrics.
In the study, 80 percent of parents took their children to a primary care provider when their sick children were unable to attend childcare, 26 percent said they had used urgent care, and 25 percent had taken their child to an emergency room. Many parents, seeing this situation as a socioeconomic emergency, preferred using urgent or emergency care rather than missing work. Dr. Matthew Davis, professor of health management and policy, who contributed to the report, suggests that policies that exclude children unnecessarily have a big impact for families and employers.
Dr. Davis and Dr. Andrew Hashikawa, another study contributor, suggest that the situation could be ameliorated with more widespread use of the national American Academy of Pediatrics guidelines for appropriate illness exclusions. This would likely reduce the amount of unnecessary exclusions of children from childcare and thus lower the amount of unnecessary emergency visits.