Speak Up!: Making Your Child’s Care a Safe and Positive Experience

Happy child

When it comes to your child’s medical care, everyone plays a role in ensuring their safety — and that includes parents.

At Children’s Hospital & Medical Center, we believe that you know your child best. We invite you to be a part of our healthcare team and be involved in your child’s care to the extent you are comfortable.

We encourage you to use the guidelines laid out by the Joint Commission’s “Speak Up” program, which urges parents to become involved in their child’s care. This initiative provides simple advice on how you, as the parent, can help make your child’s care a safe and positive experience.

Speak Up — Anytime!

When you have a concern, please speak up. If you don’t understand your child’s condition, test results, care or treatment plan, ask us. We want your child’s experience to be a positive one.


  • Pay attention to the care your child is receiving. Tell your nurse or doctor if something doesn’t seem right.
  • Educate yourself about your child’s diagnosis, tests and treatment plan.
  • Know the medications your child takes and why.
  • If you have an urgent and significant concern about a change in your child’s condition, talk to your child’s nurse or provider.

Participating in Your Child’s Care

You are a critical member of your child’s care team, which is why we want you the be involved in every decision regarding your child’s care.

  • You and your child’s provider should agree on exactly what will be done during each step of your child’s care.
  • Know who will be caring for your child, how long the treatment will last and how your child should feel.
  • Seek a second opinion if you are unsure about the nature of your child’s illness and the best treatment.
  • The more information you have about options available to you, the more comfortable you will be.
  • Keep copies of your medical records and share them with your child’s health care team. This will give them a more complete picture of your child’s health history.

Advance Directive

At the end of the day, you need to be comfortable with the care your child is receiving.

Competent adults have the right to say yes or no to medical treatment. An Advance Directive is your written statement that documents your decisions or appoints another person to make those decisions on your behalf.

If you would like more information about Advance Directives, please contact the hospital operator at (402) 955-5400 and ask for the chaplain on call.

Speak Up! About…

Here is how you can make your voice heard when your child:

  • Needs a New Provider

    One of the most important decisions you will make is which providers will care for your child. Always do your research, and choose a hospital and provider who has strong accreditations and reputation.

    Go to www.QualityCheck.org to find out whether your hospital or health care organization is accredited. “Accredited” means that the organization works by rules that ensure patient and quality standards are followed.


    QualityCheck

    Children’s Hospital & Medical Center is accredited for hospital and home care by the Joint Commission.


    Once you have chosen a provider, keep paying attention to the care your child is receiving.

    • Don’t be afraid to tell the provider if you think your child is about to get the wrong medicine.
    • Expect health care workers to introduce themselves when they enter the room. Look for their identification badges.
    • Did your child’s caregivers wash their hands? If not, remind them to do so. Hand washing is the most important way to prevent infections. Don’t be afraid to remind a nurse or doctor to do this.
    • Make sure health care staff confirms your child’s identity by checking the wristband before administering medications or treatment.
    • Expect the environment to be safe. Make sure safety belts are used in high chairs and strollers, and that children wear non-slip shoes or slippers.
  • Receives a Diagnosis

    Educate yourself about your child’s diagnosis, tests, and treatment plan.
    • Ask physicians about the specialized training and experience that qualifies them to treat your child’s illness.
    • Gather information about your child’s condition. Good sources include your child’s providers, respected websites (e.g., Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), and support groups.
    • Write down important facts doctors tell you so you can look for additional information later. Ask your child’s
      providers for written information you can keep.
    • Read and understand all medical forms before signing. If you don’t understand, ask your provider to explain.
    • Make sure you are familiar with the operation of any equipment being used in your child’s care.
  • Is Prescribed Medication

    If your child needs medication, make sure that their provider knows which medications they are already taking — including over-the-counter medicines, herbs, vitamins, and supplements. Certain medications can interact with each other, making them not work as effectively or causing dangerous side effects.

    Other steps include:

    • Whenever your child gets a new medicine, ask how it will help, about side effects, and if it’s safe to take with other medicines, including over-the-counter drugs, vitamins and herbs. Remind your provider about allergies or reactions your child has had to other medicines.
    • Ask for written information about medicines your child is taking, including brand and generic names.
    • If your child does not feel well after receiving a medicine, tell your child’s provider.
    • Ask for a copy of the medication administration record that lists all of the drugs your child is taking and check it for accuracy.
    • Your child should take all medicine as prescribed. Do not stop medications without asking your child’s physician.

    Also, pay attention to medications your child is given during a procedure or hospital stay.

    • If your child is given an IV, ask the nurse how long before the liquid “runs out.” Tell the nurse if it seems to be dripping too fast or too slow.
    • Before leaving the hospital, make sure you understand all instructions, including those for the medicines your child will need to keep taking.

    At the Provider’s Office and Pharmacy

    • Make sure you can read the handwriting on the prescription. If you can’t, the pharmacist may not be able to, either. Ask to have the prescription printed.
    • Read the label on your prescription. Make sure it is the right medicine and your child’s name is on the label.
    • If you’re not sure whether your child is supposed to swallow or chew a medicine, or whether you can cut, crush or dissolve a medicine, ask your child’s provider or pharmacist.
    • Whenever you are in doubt about a medicine, ask your child’s provider or pharmacist about it.
  • Needs Surgery

    If your child is having surgery, here’s how to help make the surgery safe.

    Before Coming to the Hospital

    • Discuss with your child’s provider the surgery to be performed, including expectations, the reason for the procedure, risks, benefits and alternatives.
    • Ask the provider if there are medications your child should avoid or stop taking temporarily before surgery.
    • Check with the provider about what your child can or can’t eat or drink before surgery.
    • Write down questions or concerns instead of trying to remember them.

    At the Hospital

    • You will be asked to sign an informed consent form, which verifies that you and your child’s provider have discussed the surgery to be performed and that you understand the risks, benefits, and alternatives.
    • The staff responsible for your child’s care will verify your child’s identification and what kind of surgery is planned. The same questions are asked repeatedly for the safety of your child. The staff also will double-check what you tell them against documents provided by your child’s provider’s office, including X-rays.
    • Depending on the procedure planned, the provider or a member of your health care team will mark the correct surgical location on your child’s body. This is another way to ensure that the correct procedure is done on your child.
    • Just prior to surgery, the surgical team will take a “time out” during which all team members assure themselves that they are performing the correct procedure at the correct site and on the correct patient.
    • After your child’s surgery, the providers will ask about any pain your child may have. Children’s evaluates pain and provides appropriate relief through medication and other methods.

    Going Home Following Surgery

    • Your child’s provider and nurse will review instructions for home care with you. Be sure you understand and if you have questions, ask.
    • Follow up with your child’s provider about office appointments, therapy or medicines necessary during recovery. Ask when play, sports, school, and daycare can be resumed.

Speak Up at Home

Being involved in your child’s care doesn’t just mean making decisions about providers or treatment. It also means helping your child stay healthy at home.

All children get sick once in a while. Infections like strep throat, the flu, or the common cold are a normal part of childhood. However, there are steps you can take to prevent infections as much as possible. Here’s what you can do to fight the spread of infection.

1. Clean Your Hands

  • Use soap and warm water. Rub your hands vigorously for at least 15 seconds.
  • If your hands do not look dirty, you can clean them with a quarter-size amount of alcohol-based hand sanitizer. Rub the sanitizer all over your hands, especially under your nails and between your fingers, for 15 seconds or until your hands are dry.
  • Clean your hands before touching or eating food. Wash hands with soap and water after using the bathroom, changing a diaper or handling money.
  • Before health care professionals care for your child, ask them if they’ve cleaned their hands.

2. Cover Your Mouth and Nose (Respiratory Hygiene and Cough Etiquette)

Many diseases are spread through sneezes and coughs.

  • When you sneeze or cough, the germs can travel three feet or more! Controlling a cough if you are sick can help prevent the spread of infection.
  • Anyone with a cough should wear a mask when visiting a health care service area. Located at each entrance to Children’s is a “Cover Your Cough” station. It contains hand sanitizer, tissues and masks. Please use this station if you have symptoms of a cold or viral illness.
  • Use a tissue! Keep tissues handy and in your pocket when at work, at home or in public places. Be sure to throw away used tissues and then clean your hands.
  • If you don’t have a tissue, cover your mouth and nose with your hands or the crook of your elbow. If you use your hands, wash them immediately with soap and water.

Avoid Close Contact

  • If you are sick with a fever or other symptoms of a contagious illness, stay home and away from other people.
  • Maintain a space of at least three feet when around a coughing child or adult.

Your Rights and Responsibilities

Care at Children’s comes with rights and responsibilities.

  • Rights

    At Children’s, the patient and his/her family have the right to:
    1. Impartial access to treatment or accommodations that are available and medically indicated regardless of race, ethnicity, religion, culture, language, physical or mental disability, socioeconomic status, gender, sexual orientation/ gender identity or source(s) of payment for care.
    2. Have advance medical directive information available at the time of admission to patients who meet the legal criteria and address decisions about the care, treatment and services received at the end of life.
    3. Have appropriate assessment and management of pain.
    4. Receive information in a manner that is clear in order to make informed choices, including:
      – Access to interpreters in a language other than English or for the hearing impaired.
      – Explanations provided in a way in which are understandable, and include providing information to a patient or guardian who may have vision, speech, hearing or cognitive impairments in a manner that meets the patient’s/guardian’s needs.
      – An explanation of all forms a patient or their family is asked to sign and to be able to refuse to sign consent forms if they do not feel everything is explained satisfactorily.
      – The option to give or withhold informed consent, which includes an explanation of procedures and treatments including the risks, benefits and medically significant alternatives.
      – The option to participate or refuse to participate in medical education or research programs.
    5. Have a family member or representative of their choice and their physician notified promptly of the child’s admission to the hospital.
    6. Be informed about the outcome of care, including an unanticipated outcome when appropriate.
    7. Be informed of all caregivers and actively participate in their care to the extent possible.
    8. Be informed of professional relationships among individuals who are providing service, as well as the relationship to any other health care or educational institutions involved in their care.
    9. Care that promotes comfort, growth, play and learning in an age-appropriate environment.
    10. A safe environment which preserves dignity and contributes to a positive self-image including:
      – Access to the Children’s Advocacy Team (CAT) if there are concerns about abuse or neglect.
      – Access to protective and other advocacy services.
      – The right to voice complaints or concerns to hospital staff without compromising patient care and to have those complaints reviewed and when possible, resolved, and the right to file a complaint with the state authority or the Joint Commission if you choose.
    11. Have access to people outside of the hospital by means of visitors, and by verbal and written communications, and to be included, as appropriate, to restrict such access. This includes having a family member, friend, or another individual present for emotional support during the course of their visit.
    12. Restrict access to medical information by outside visitors or hospital personnel not directly involved in care to the extent permitted by law.
    13. Receive planned and coordinated quality care.
    14. Be informed of their condition and any continuing health care needs.
    15. Be free from seclusion and restraints unless required to prevent injury to patient or others.
    16. Be free from neglect, exploitation, and verbal, mental, physical and sexual abuse.
    17. Be treated with dignity, respect, and courtesy.
    18. Have their privacy respected and confidentiality maintained:- All communications, medical records and information about source(s) of payment will be treated as confidential.
      – No information will be given out without your consent or as allowed by law.
    19. Have personal spiritual, cultural and psycho-social, values, beliefs, and preferences respected, including the right to wear appropriate personal clothing and religious or other symbolic items, as long as they do not interfere with procedures or treatment.
    20. Have access to hospital pastoral services or those of the patient’s choice.
    21. Have access to the Children’s Ethics Committee for consultation.
    22. Request a second opinion, a consultation or a change of health care provider or hospital.
    23. Refuse treatment to the extent permitted by law and to be informed of the consequences of that refusal.
    24. Request and receive an itemized listing of charges for services provided.
    25. Have access, request an amendment to, and receive an accounting of disclosures regarding their health information as permitted under applicable law.
  • Responsibilities

    At Children’s, the patient and his/her family, in partnership with hospital staff, are expected to:
    1. Provide accurate and complete information regarding medical history, allergies, medications, communicable diseases and other health matters, including any changes in this information.
    2. Provide accurate and complete information regarding names, addresses, telephone numbers and insurance information, including any changes in this information.
    3. Participate in care decisions with the health care team to ensure the best possible treatment, rehabilitation, and discharge planning.
    4. Inform the health care team if the health care instructions are not understood or if they cannot be followed.
    5. Promptly meet any financial obligation for health care services provided and to know health care benefits and coverage, to include playing an active role to obtain referrals and pre-certifications.
    6. Treat other families and staff in a considerate, courteous and cooperative manner.
    7. Take care of personal property and valuables, and to respect the hospital’s property and the property of other patients.
    8. Respect the hospital’s staff, rules, and regulations.
    9. Take responsibility for following the plan of care upon discharge and to assume the consequences if the plan of care is not followed.

Financial Counseling

Your worries about your child are great enough without including the associated financial concerns. Please do not risk your child’s care simply because you do not have adequate insurance.

Children’s and its financial counselors can work with you to identify payment options that meet your personal needs and ability to pay. There are a number of programs in place to help you in paying for your child’s health care.

Our financial counselors can assist you in identifying and applying for federal, state, local and private programs that may help. To contact the financial counseling services at Children’s, call (402) 955-6051 or toll-free: (855) 955-6051.


Questions or Concerns?

If you have a concern about the care or services received, please bring these concerns promptly to the attention of a staff member or the supervisor of the area. It is our sincere desire to correct issues quickly. At no time will your concern result in a negative impact on the care of your child or how the staff responds to your needs.

If the issue is not resolved in a reasonable time, or you feel formal action is needed, you may file a grievance by calling the Children’s corporate compliance & privacy officer at (402) 955-4122, or the administrator on call at (402) 955-5400. You may also call the compliance and safety hotline at (402) 955-3250.

Written grievances can be addressed to:

Children’s Hospital & Medical Center
Executive Offices
Attn: Corporate Compliance & Privacy Officer
8200 Dodge Street
Omaha, NE 68114

A formal complaint or grievance can be filed with the Nebraska Department of Health & Human Services.

Nebraska Department of Health & Human Services
P.O. Box 95026
Lincoln, Nebraska 68509-5026
(402) 471-3121

You may also report a concern about patient safety or quality of care to The Joint Commission.

E-mail: patientsafetyreport@jointcommission.org

Online: https://apps.jointcommission.org/QMSInternet/incidentEntry.aspx

Fax: (630) 792-5636

Mail: Office of Quality and Patient Safety
The Joint Commission
One Renaissance Boulevard
Oakbrook Terrace, Illinois 60181

Back To Top