Important aspects of the management of meningitis in children include notification to local officers for control of communicable diseases; chemoprophylaxis for index cases and close contacts in cases of meningococcal or Haemophilus influenzae meningitis; and a formal hearing assessment for all survivors. A retrospective audit of these aspects of management was carried out for children admitted with meningitis in 12 months from 1 September 1990 to 31 August 1991 at the Royal Belfast Hospital for Sick Children. Only 20 of 36(56%) cases were notified by medical staff. Chemoprophylaxis was arranged for all close family contacts but to only five of the 23(22%) index cases for whom it was indicated. Appointments for audiological testing were arranged for only 19 of the 32(59%) survivors. Subsequently all doctors, including each intake of junior doctors, were given written information on the importance of notification and locally agreed guidelines for chemoprophylaxis and hearing assessments for survivors before discharge. Guidelines were also displayed prominently in each ward. A repeat audit from January 1992 to December 1992 showed significant improvement in these aspects of care. Twenty eight of 32 cases (88%) were notified, chemoprophylaxis was given to 20 of 22(91%) index cases for whom it was indicated, and 25 of 29(86%) survivors had hearing assessments arranged before discharge. Correct management of some aspects of care cannot be assumed, even if statutory (notification), nationally agreed (chemoprophylaxis), or generally agreed good practice (hearing assessments). These aspects of care improved after the first audit but the authors conclude that the notification rate remains below 100% and a repeat audit is necessary.
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