Patient Safety: Tips for Families

The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia is committed to patient safety and keeping every child safe every day. Excellent communication between staff and families helps us reach that goal. We believe that as a family, you know your child best. When you share information and observations about your child and learn about your child’s treatments, medications and procedures, you help to create a partnership with the healthcare team that keeps your child safe. We’re in this together, and together we can provide the best — and safest — care.

  • Because the family is the constant in a child’s life, you may notice things that staff doesn’t. Tell your care provider anything you think could be helpful. Your input and observations are valued.
  • You can approach any member of the care team if you see something that does not seem right. Express your concern clearly and respectfully. Writing it down helps you remember.
  • The care provider should share what he or she plans to do with the information you provide. Feel comfortable asking for details about the plan. After the care provider has outlined the next steps, repeat back what was said to ensure you both have a clear understanding.
  • If the provider doesn’t follow up as planned, ask again. Trust your instincts; be persistent until you are satisfied the situation is resolved. If you’re unsatisfied with the response of the staff, ask for the charge nurse, nursing supervisor or the resident on duty.
  • If your child sees multiple services or specialists, feel free to communicate changes in your child’s condition or treatment plan to all providers to check that changes in treatment for one condition don’t conflict with ongoing treatment for other conditions.
  • Care providers will confirm your child’s full name and date of birth several times throughout an office visit or Hospital stay. This safety precaution makes sure each patient receives the proper medication, test or procedure.
  • When anyone — physician, nurse, visitor, social worker — enters your child’s room, they should wash their hands or use hand sanitizer. If they don’t, remind them.
  • Care providers may turn on a light during the night when they check on your child. This is so they can see to perform the required duties safely.
  • Ask staff about your child’s medications so you can learn what they do, the doses, how frequently they are given and if there are side effects you should watch for. It helps to take notes.
  • Learn as much as you can about the safety steps for procedures involving your child. Ask questions. Have staff walk you through the procedure (such as changing a dressing). Participate in your child’s care to the level you’re comfortable. The more you know, the better partner you can be.
August 2014