6 Ways to Protect Your Child From Medical Mistakes

Medically reviewed in February 2022

These are excerpted from a patient tip sheet published by the U.S. government. While all the info in it is useful, using this little hospital checklist from Uncle Sam can go a long way toward keeping your kid out of medical trouble

1. If you have a choice, pick a hospital at which many children have the procedure your child needs. As previously mentioned, all patients, young and old, tend to do better in hospitals that have a great deal of experience treating their condition. Ask how many of the procedures have been performed at the hospital.

2. Make sure you know who is in charge of your child's care at the hospital. This will be the attending physician -- most likely a surgeon or specialist, not your pediatrician. Identifying this person is especially important if your child has many health problems.

3. Make sure that all health professionals involved in your child's care have important medical information about him. Do not assume that everyone knows everything they need to.

4. If you don't trust yourself to speak up, bring along someone you do trust. Ask a vocal family member or friend to help be your child's advocate. This person can also help you remember instructions during what can be an overwhelmingly stressful period. Time to call in a few favors! Read more on why this is so important.

5. Ask why each test or procedure is being done. It is a good idea to find out why a test or treatment is needed and how it can help. Sometimes a test is optional, and your child could be better off without it.

6. When your child is being discharged from the hospital, go over the home treatment plan twice. Research shows that at discharge time, doctors think people understand more than they really do about what they should and should not do when they return home.

Source: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

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