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Hospital Focus Misdirected Toward Parents, Survey Suggests

John Commins, for HealthLeaders Media, September 28, 2011

Imagine if your hospital patient experience included imposing NBA-sized nurses in surgical scrubs, towering over your tiny frame, poking you with needles, flashing bright lights in your eyes, ripping Band-aids off your skin, and calling you "Sweetie" because they couldn't be bothered with learning your name.

That may well be the experience of many of the 3 million or so children and young adults who are treated each year in the nation's hospitals. Nobody knows for sure how many children and young adults feel this way about their hospital experience, however, because nobody is asking them.

Nancy Ryan-Wenger, RN, hopes to change that. The director of Nursing Research and investigator with the Center for Innovation in Pediatric Practice at Nationwide Children's Hospital in Columbus, Ryan-Wenger is the lead author of a survey and study that calls for giving children a voice in grading their hospital stay.

"Right now in pediatrics it's all about parent satisfaction," Ryan-Wenger tells HealthLeaders Media. "Every person deserves the best experience they can have in a hospital. We underestimate how children respond and how a hospital experience influences them for the rest of their lives. It is a formative experience that not every child has. They aren't paying the bills, but they are the patient."

"I hate to say it, but the trend toward service-oriented parents and family-centered care at pediatric hospitals has gone overboard with parent satisfaction and comfort. The child sort of gets left behind."

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2 comments on "Hospital Focus Misdirected Toward Parents, Survey Suggests"


Heidi Lee Sinclair, MD, MPH (9/30/2011 at 12:38 PM)
when my son was in the NICU it made me mad that the Neonatologist never met with me until the day my son was being discharged (day 20) never made eye-contact and kept calling me "mom" and didn't call my baby by name either ... i make it a point to always address patient and parent BY NAME - and ask to make sure I have the name right - what they preferred to be called ... i think this is basic respect

Scott (9/28/2011 at 9:51 AM)
Interesting article, I can say that the issue transcends into many care specialties. While I do not work in peds, I can say that a similar event occurs from time to time in Long Term Care. While we do speak of "patient" satisfaciton, some forget that the patient is still there despite their physical and or mental deterioration. Sometimes too the tail (family) wags the dog. Othertimes discussions occur to the "family" about the patient, even when the patient is right there. I know this happens in many areas of healthcare. Also, in LTC it is often asked was the family notified and the answer is always "yes" updates but some forget to update resident who is the one being impacted most.