Documentation in the pediatric emergency department: A review of resuscitation cases

Philip S. Schoenfeld, M. Douglas Baker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Study objective: Documentation practices of staff physicians, residents, and nurses managing critically ill children were reviewed for completion of standard documentation requirements. Design: Retrospective chart review. Setting: Municipal children's hospital. Participants: 144 patients treated in the cardiopulmonary/trauma resuscitation room over a 17-month period. Intervention: Emergency department records of these patients were reviewed for medical information required by joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations guidelines: history of present illness, medical history, vital signs, physical examination, laboratory results, clinical observations, and diagnostic impression. In addition, the frequency of medical record review by legal representatives of the patient and by the state's social service agencies was evaluated. Results: Attending physicians demonstrated more complete documentation than residents in clinical observations of patients (36.4% vs 18.0%, P < .005) and diagnostic impression (97% vs 78.4%, P < .03). Nurses demonstrated more complete documentation than physicians, as a group, in laboratory results (83.9% vs 47.6%, P < .001) and clinical observations (80.6% vs 22.2%, P < .001). Sixty-six medical records (37.9%) were subjected to legal review: 37 (21.3%) by patients' legal representatives, and 29 (16.7%) by the state's social service agency. Conclusion: ED record documentation of pediatric patients treated in a cardiopulmonary/trauma resuscitation room often does not meet standard guidelines. Complete documentation is important due to the frequency of legal review of these records and the need to ensure post-ED continuity of care.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)641-643
Number of pages3
JournalAnnals of emergency medicine
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 1991
Externally publishedYes


  • resuscitation, documentation, pediatric

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Emergency Medicine

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