Patient Safety: Tips for Families

Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) is committed to patient safety. This means providing the highest quality care and keeping every child safe every day. Excellent communication between staff and families helps us reach that goal.

What is patient safety?

When we focus on patient safety, we are focusing on preventing medical errors that could lead to adverse healthcare outcomes for our patients. Patient safety includes all aspects of the care experience, including:

  • Effective communication
  • Adherence to processes
  • Proper hand hygiene
  • Safe systems for ordering and giving medications

Your role as a parent or caregiver

Communication between staff and families helps to create a partnership that keeps patients safe.

You know your child best. By sharing your observations and concerns with your child's healthcare team and learning about their treatments and medications, you help us provide your child with the best — and safest — care possible. Always trust your instincts. Your observations make a difference.

Here are some things you can do to be an active participant in your child’s care:

  • Tell your care provider anything you think could be helpful. Your input and observations are valued. Because you are the constant in your child’s life, you may notice things that staff doesn’t.
  • Ask questions. We are happy to repeat anything you don't understand. Write down any questions or concerns to help you remember and bring them up with your child's healthcare team.
  • Speak up if something that does not seem right. Express your concern clearly and respectfully.
  • Ask for details about what the healthcare team plans to do with any information you provide. Repeat back what was said to ensure you both have a clear understanding. If the care team doesn’t follow up as planned, ask again. Trust your instincts; be persistent until you are satisfied the situation is resolved.
  • If your child sees multiple services or specialists, feel free to communicate changes in your child’s condition, medications or treatment plan to all providers to check that changes in treatment for one condition don’t conflict with ongoing treatment for other conditions.
  • Be aware that members of the healthcare team will confirm your child’s full name and date of birth several times throughout an office visit or Hospital stay. This might mean checking their ID band. This safety precaution makes sure each patient receives the proper medication, test or procedure.
  • When anyone — physician, nurse, visitor, social worker, visitor — enters your child’s room, they should wash their hands or use hand sanitizer. If they don’t, remind them.
  • Ask about your child’s medications, including potential side effects you should watch for, doses, and color.
  • 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.
  • Remind your care team of any allergies your child may have

If you feel that your concerns are not heard, ask to talk with the charge nurse, nursing supervisor, or resident on duty.

August 2014