Family Safety Reporting in Hospitalized Children With Medical Complexity

Pediatrics. 2022 Aug 1;150(2):e2021055098. doi: 10.1542/peds.2021-055098.


Background and objectives: Hospitalized children with medical complexity (CMC) are at high risk of medical errors. Their families are an underutilized source of hospital safety data. We evaluated safety concerns from families of hospitalized CMC and patient/parent characteristics associated with family safety concerns.

Methods: We conducted a 12-month prospective cohort study of English- and Spanish-speaking parents/staff of hospitalized CMC on 5 units caring for complex care patients at a tertiary care children's hospital. Parents completed safety and experience surveys predischarge. Staff completed surveys during meetings and shifts. Mixed-effects logistic regression with random intercepts controlling for clustering and other patient/parent factors evaluated associations between family safety concerns and patient/parent characteristics.

Results: A total of 155 parents and 214 staff completed surveys (>89% response rates). 43% (n = 66) had ≥1 hospital safety concerns, totaling 115 concerns (1-6 concerns each). On physician review, 69% of concerns were medical errors and 22% nonsafety-related quality issues. Most parents (68%) reported concerns to staff, particularly bedside nurses. Only 32% of parents recalled being told how to report safety concerns. Higher education (adjusted odds ratio 2.94, 95% confidence interval [1.21-7.14], P = .02) and longer length of stay (3.08 [1.29-7.38], P = .01) were associated with family safety concerns.

Conclusions: Although parents of CMC were infrequently advised about how to report safety concerns, they frequently identified medical errors during hospitalization. Hospitals should provide clear mechanisms for families, particularly of CMC and those from disadvantaged backgrounds, to share safety concerns. Actively engaging patients/families in reporting will allow hospitals to develop a more comprehensive, patient-centered view of safety.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Child, Hospitalized*
  • Hospitalization
  • Humans
  • Medical Errors
  • Parents*
  • Prospective Studies