The use of the Road-to-Health card by doctors in a tertiary paediatric hospital setting

J I Wiles, G Swingler


Background. Low possession of the Road-to-Health card (RTHC) by parents, as well as inadequate use of the RTHC by health professionals, have reduced its efficacy. 

Objectives. To describe the level of possession of the RTHC by a sample of patients admitted to the Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital (RCWMCH), and to determine the extent and accuracy of doctors’ transfer of clinical information between the RTHC and hospital records. 

Methods. A cross-sectional analytical study conducted in four general paediatric wards over six weeks, during which data were extracted from participants’ RTHC and hospital record. The presence or absence of selected items of information on the RTHC and the hospital record was recorded; the primary outcome was the transfer of the specified items of information between records. 

Results. A total of 133 (81%) eligible caregivers had the RTHC on their person. Variables including perinatal information, immunisation record and weight-for-age chart were well-documented on the RTHC prior to hospital admission, and mostly well-transferred to the hospital record. In general, new information in the hospital record was poorly transferred to the RTHC on discharge; for example, weight (31%), diagnosis (63%) and treatment (48%). 

Conclusions. The possession rate of RTHCs within the study sample was within an acceptable range. Although doctors generally made use of the RTHC as a reference source, their recording of new clinical information on the RTHC was poor, missing the opportunity to use it as a communication tool for continuity of care.

Authors' affiliations

J I Wiles, Department of Paediatrics, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Cape Town, Cape Town, South Africa

G Swingler, Department of Paediatrics, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Cape Town, Cape Town, South Africa

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Cite this article

South African Journal of Child Health 2018;12(2):63-67. DOI:10.7196/SAJCH.2018.v12i2.1458

Article History

Date submitted: 2018-06-26
Date published: 2018-06-26

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