Parent-Reported Errors and Adverse Events in Hospitalized Children

Parents play a large role in monitoring the condition of their children. They are consistently observing and playing an active part in their children’s hospital care. They are able to notice things that health providers might not see. Having different personnel and systems make the efforts to provide the best care to the children complicated. Medical errors unnoticed can lead to preventable adverse side effects. Parents can be a vital resource in identifying errors that can be prevented in the future.

In 2013, a study was conducted to evaluate parent reports of safety incidents their children experienced. These reports that met stated definitions were labeled medical errors or potential adverse events. Parents of randomly selected inpatient children were given surveys to report any safety incidents throughout their stay at the hospital. Reviewers would categorize the safety incidents as either harmful or non-harmful. Finally, they reviewed clinical/demographic data and analyzed medical records obtained from the hospital.

The results showed 37 safety concerns had been reported from 34 of the 383 parents surveyed. 62% of the safety incidents were found to be physician review medical errors. 43% of the medical errors reported by parents did not show up on the medical record review. 30.4% of the medical errors were defined as harmful. They also found that the length of stay was correlated with parental reporting a medical error. This makes sense because the risk increases with greater exposure.

One of the issues that was brought up in this study was excluding non-English speaking families. They should be included in further studies and I think their input will be valuable in further identifying medical errors and potential adverse events. Researchers can utilize language interpreters to translate their surveys to the families.

Khan A, Furtak SL, Melvin P, et al. Parent-Reported Errors and Adverse Events in Hospitalized Children. JAMA Pediatr. doi:10.1001/jamapediatrics.2015.4608 (published 29 February 2016).