8 Ways to Keep Your Child Safe in the Hospital
What you can do to help prevent infections, medicine mix-ups and more
It's hard enough having a child in the hospital. But beyond the injury or illness that landed him there are the risks in inherent in any hospital stay, from medication errors to hospital-acquired infections.
Your child's doctors, nurses and other staff will do all they can to keep him safe, but there's a lot you can do, too. Here are tips for helping to make sure your child is safe during a hospital stay, courtesy of Children's Hospitals' Solutions for Patient Safety. The organization's president and CEO, Michael Fisher, describes it as "a network of hospitals who are teaching and learning from each other to provide the safest possible care in children's hospitals across the country."
Related: How Good Is Your Local Hospital?
Advocate for your child. Ask questions, raise concerns and don’t be shy about asking a caregiver to check your child’s chart before they act. Plan ahead by writing down your questions so you can make sure they’re answered.
Share details about your child. Speak up if she’s afraid of animals, for example, or needs her food cut into very small bites.
Wash your hands and your child’s. Do this when you enter and when you leave the hospital, your child’s room, the bathroom and treatment rooms (such as x-ray). Be sure to wash up if you handle any soiled material.
Make sure medical personnel wash their hands — even if they’re wearing gloves. Don’t hesitate to say something like, "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."
Make sure wounds and catheters stay clean and dry. If your child has an intravenous catheter or a wound, make sure the skin around the dressing is clean and dry. Tell your caregiver know if it gets wet or becomes loose.
Watch for red or irritated skin. If you notice either, point it out to your child's caregivers.
Know the meds. Ask the names of your child’s medications and what each is for. A caregiver should check your child's identification band before giving a medication to make sure he gives the right one. If this doesn’t happen, ask the staff member 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?"
Be prepared when going home. When your child is ready to leave, make certain you know what medications and/or treatments she’ll need at 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 find out when your child will need to follow up with a physician appointment.
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