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Study finds Children's Hospital patient safety program improves caregiver/family communications

Condition Help, a patient safety program launched more than two years ago at Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC, has significantly improved communication between caregivers and patients and improved patient and family satisfaction, a review of the program has found.

Children's Hospital became the first pediatric hospital in the nation working with the Josie King Foundation to launch a patient safety initiative that gives parents round-the-clock access to medical intervention. Condition Help gives patients and/or parents of patients the ability to call a hotline phone number to have their child evaluated by a special medical team if they feel their child's immediate health is in danger or their concerns aren't being addressed. Family advisors served on the steering committee at Children's that established Condition Help.

A review of the first 42 Condition Help calls at Children's occurring between September 2005 and August 2007 found that the root cause of all the calls was a communication breakdown between patient and/or parent and the caregiver (physician or nurse), according to Bonnie S. Dean, PhD, RN, director of Nursing Education, Research and Professional Development at Children's and senior author of the review.

Results are published in the May/June issue of the Journal for Healthcare Quality, the official journal of the National Association for Healthcare Quality.

"The goal of this program has been to empower families because no one knows a child better than his or her parents. Our review found that Condition Help has enhanced patient safety at Children's by providing yet another safeguard against mistakes, and that it has improved the health care environment for patients, families and clinicians," Dr. Dean said. "It has dramatically helped us improve communication with patients and families, and this is critical to reducing errors."

Among the process improvements at Children's that can be attributed to Condition Help are:

  • The establishment of "family-centered rounds," in which patients and families participate in medical rounds with physicians, nurses and other staff.
  • Improvement in communication among families, staff on inpatient units and the Pediatric Radiology Department, which has led to a dramatic decrease in time delays for patients in need of a diagnostic scan.
  • An improved approach to developing pain-management plans for surgical patients. Pain management is now discussed with the family immediately after a procedure, any time a change to the plan must occur, and when the patient is transferred or discharged.
  • The development of a discharge plan that begins as soon as the patient is admitted. Caregivers actively involve the patient and family in the plan throughout the entire hospitalization.


Contact: Marc Lukasiak
Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh

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