5 Ways to Keep Your Kid Healthy and Safe at the Hospital

One of my sons underwent emergency surgery in March to have his appendix removed. He was in good hands, of course, but still… it was scary. It didn’t help that I had recently written a Parents magazine article about “Eight Medication Mistakes Parents Make.” While that piece focused on blunders made at home, I knew from my research that medication mistakes happen in hospitals, too. In fact, a 2004 Pediatrics study shows that about 4,500 hospitalized children die each year due to medical errors. If your child’s hospitalized, you can lower his risk of problems by following these tips:

1. Speak up. You have a right to question or voice your concerns to anyone involved in your child’s care.

2. Don’t let anyone give your child a medication without first finding out what it is, what it treats, why it’s needed, who prescribed it and what the side effects are. Make sure the health provider is aware of other medications your child’s taking and ask about possible interactions.

3. Find out why a test or treatment is needed, how it can help and when you can expect to get the results.

4. Be sure every health provider has your child’s medical history including her weight and age, allergies, and other medications or supplements she takes.

5. Talk to your child’s doctor and surgeon to make sure you all agree on what surgical procedure is planned, why surgery is needed and what to expect during recovery.