Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Parents play critical role in safety of hospitalized children

A study published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal this week underscores the importance of families in identifying adverse events or near misses (medication errors, treatment complications, equipment failures or miscommunication between staff or between staff and family) in the care of hospitalized children.
  Over one year, 544 families of children on a single ward at British Columbia's Children's Hospital were asked to answer a questionnaire about adverse events and near misses during their hospital stay.
  The purpose of the study was to test whether the new family reporting system would change the rate of reporting of adverse events by health-care providers.
  The study found that family reporting did not alter the rate of safety reports by health-care providers.
  A total of 321 adverse events were identified by families. Almost half were deemed by independent clinical experts who reviewed the data as legitimate 'near misses' or to have caused some degree of patient harm.
  Only 2.5 per cent of the adverse events reported by families were reported by health-care providers.
  Of the 321 events reported, 139 families received apologies for the incidents.
  "We found that families observe and report safety problems differently than do health-care providers," researchers said. "Further research is needed to delineate how best to harness the potential of families to improve the safety of the health-care system."


Thanks for posting Louise. This is a very important article. Many parents of hospitalized children are with them around the clock and they can certainly be empowered to be partners in safety with their nurses and doctors. Young children are so vulnerable because they seldom have their own voice and medication errors can be more serious with small prescribed dosages.
I hope this article triggers increased awareness of patient safety in children and the importance of family centred care with active and involved parents.

And, my mother believes, "She doesn't need to worry about me having post-op complications." For, as she puts it, "The doctors will take care of me."

Who would like to tell my mom that, "We're not in Kansas anymore?" --Louise, I was never worried about the pain.


Hi Anonymous -- I agree that this study shows the critical partnership role parents play. I thought the way they set this study up was brilliant. I can't wait to see further research. It would be interesting to hear how staff responded.

Hi Matt -- You're a very strong advocate for yourself.

But I think anyone in hospital -- adult or child -- needs a second pair of eyes and voice.

Hi Louise, I would NEVER leave Nicholas alone in the hospital! He has had many, many errors and near misses - a serious overdose of morphine in ICU due to two pumps running (erroneously) at the same time, and another time, the morphine pump running at 15 mcg/hr instead of 1.5. Both times WE caught the error. There are many more examples. A non speaking child in hospital is very, very vulnerable and absolutely needs advocates 24/7 if possible. Thank you for flagging this important issue!