How can I protect my child from medical mistakes in the hospital?

It is perfectly normal to be scared when your child in the hospital. You know that getting proper medical care is important for your child’s health, but mistakes do happen. When there is a hospital error, a child is much more likely to suffer harm than an adult. These tips can help you to prevent medical mistakes before, during, and after your child’s hospital visit.

Five Steps to Take Before the Hospital Visit
  • Whenever possible, choose a children’s hospital. Doctors and nurses who are trained to work with children are able to recognize when a child is in distress, even if the child can’t communicate.
  • Do your research. Learn about your child’s illness or injury and the treatment that she will receive.
  • Talk to the doctor. Ask your child’s doctor to explain the procedure and any possible complications. Ask questions about anything that you don’t understand.
  • Update your child’s health history. Make sure that the doctor and hospital have your child’s complete health history, including information about allergies and medications. Don’t forget to include any vitamins, supplements, or over-the-counter medicines that your child takes on a regular basis.
  • Start a health notebook for your child. Use this notebook to write down information about your child’s medical condition, medications, tests results, and any side effects of treatment. Take it to every doctor’s visit. Write down any questions you have as well as the answers that you receive.
Five Ways to Protect Your Child During Her Hospital Stay
  • Check your child’s hospital bracelet. Make sure that the information is correct and that the hospital bracelet is worn at all times. Let a nurse know if your child takes it off.
  • Make sure that hospital staff checks the ID bracelet before administering medication or performing lab tests.
  • Children can be shy about talking to adults. Let your child know that it is okay to speak out if something seems wrong.
  • Read all doctor orders and prescriptions for your child. Ask about any inconsistencies.
  • Keep an eye on your child’s catheters and incisions. Watch for redness, swelling, and other signs of infection.
Five Steps to Take After You Go Home
  • Make sure that you understand your child’s home treatment plan before he is discharged. Know what follow up care is needed and whether your child will be taking medication. Ask for a phone number to call if you have questions.
  • Practice any special treatments or procedures with a nurse.
  • Ask the doctor about any restrictions on your child’s activities. Find out when your child will be able to resume her normal schedule.
  • Know the symptoms of potential setbacks or complications. Get a number to call if you notice any of these signs.
  • Make an appointment for your child’s follow-up visit.

Parents can reduce the chance of a serious hospital error, but they are not medical professionals. If your child is injured by a medical mistake, it isn’t your fault. The doctors and nurses who made the mistake can be held responsible. To learn more about your child’s rights, please contact Lewis and Tompkins, P.C. at 202-296-0666. There is no charge for the consultation.

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