As National Patient Safety Awareness Week kicks off this week (March 10-16,
2019), East Tennessee Children's Hospital is joining forces with children’s
hospitals across North America to affirm the critical role patient families
play in making hospital stays as safe as possible for their children.
East Tennessee Children's Hospital is part of a national learning network,
Children’s Hospitals’ Solutions for Patient Safety (SPS), which is made up of
135+ children’s hospitals who are driven by the shared goal to urgently reduce and eliminate serious
harm. The hospitals in the network have developed evidence-based bundles
in care delivery for pediatric hospital-acquired conditions, and the network
is working with hospitals to spread and implement these bundles in order
to accelerate the pace of harm reduction. The SPS Network offers impactful
and easy-to-implement safety tips for families to follow when visiting
the hospital with their children.
In addition to the steps our hospital is taking to provide the safest possible
care for children, there are also things that families and patients can
do to be part of these efforts. Families play an important role in preventing
harm, and informed families can help reduce the risk of preventable harm.
We are encouraging our patients and their families to follow some simple,
yet potentially life-saving, tips during National Patient Safety Awareness
Week and every day that they visit a children’s hospital.
According to Michael Fisher, president and CEO, Cincinnati Children’s
and chair of SPS, “The family is the most critical part of the patient’s
caregiving team, and we invite families to actively participate in ensuring
their child is safe in our hospitals by taking specific actions.”
Recommended actions for families are as follows:
1. BE A PATIENT ADVOCATE FOR YOUR CHILD. Don’t be shy. Ask questions
about your child’s care, raise safety concerns you have, or ask
the caregiver to double check their chart before they act. Write down
your questions to make sure the caregiver addresses them. You might say,
“Excuse me, I have a few questions before you start treatment. Would
you mind answering them, please?”
2. YOU KNOW YOUR CHILD BEST. Share unique things about your child with
caregivers that may be important for your child’s overall care (i.e.
they have a fear of animals or only like to eat food cut in small pieces).
3. WASH. Wash your hands and your child’s hands when entering and
leaving the hospital, your patient room, the bathroom, and any treatment
rooms (such as x-ray), and be sure to wash if you have handled any soiled material.
4. ENSURE THEY WASH, TOO. Since you are part of your child’s health
care team, do not be afraid to remind doctors and nurses about washing
their hands before working with you—even if they are wearing gloves.
You might say, “Excuse me, I didn’t see you wash your hands.
I’d like to be sure everyone’s hands are clean. Please wash
them before caring for my child.”
5. STAY CLEAN & DRY. If your child has an intravenous catheter or a
wound, keep the skin around the dressing clean and dry and let your caregiver
know if it gets wet or loose.
6. WATCH FOR RED OR IRRITATED SKIN. If you notice any new redness or irritation
on your child’s skin, notify your child’s caregivers. Ask
what steps can be taken to prevent harm to the skin.
7. KNOW THE MEDS. Ask for the names of the medications your child is receiving
in the hospital and how they are expected to help your child. Caregivers
will check your child’s identification band before giving a medication
to make certain the correct medication is being given. If you don’t
see this, ask staff to double check that the medication is for your child.
You might say, “Excuse me, that medication is not familiar to me.
Can you please double check it against my child’s chart?”
8. BE PREPARED WHEN GOING HOME. When your child is ready to go home from
the hospital, make certain you know what medications and/or treatments
your child will need once home. Ask what you should watch for that will
require a call to your child’s doctor and which doctor to call if
questions come up. Also ask when your child will need to follow up with
a physician appointment.
Between 2012 and November 2018, the SPS Network has
saved 11,108 children from serious harm and led to an estimated savings of more than $182 million. As hospitals
and families continue to take the necessary steps to prevent serious harm,
more children will be saved from harm. SPS is funded in part by the federal
Partnership for Patients initiative. Additional supporting partners include
the Children’s Hospital Association and Cardinal Health Foundation.
More information about SPS is available at
For more information, contact the ETCH Patient Experience Office at (865)
541-8586 or Angela Krile for SPS at 740-974-3948 or