Hospital Focus Misdirected Toward Parents, Survey Suggests

John Commins, 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."

John Commins

John Commins is a senior editor at HealthLeaders Media.

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