Hospitals Should Engage Patients and Families in Safety Efforts Interview with:

Dr. Alisa Khan, MD MPH Boston Children's Hospital Boston

Dr. Alisa Khan

Dr. Alisa Khan, MD MPH
Division of General Pediatrics
Boston Children’s Hospital
Department of Pediatrics, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts

Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Dr. Khan: Medical errors, or mistakes in the process of caring for patients, occur frequently. While methods of detecting errors have improved, parents and families are not typically included in routine hospital safety monitoring systems. We found that nearly 1 in 11 parents reported their child had experienced a safety incident during hospitalization. Most of these reports were confirmed to be medical errors when reviewed by physicians, and many were not otherwise documented in the patient’s medical record.

Medical Research: What should clinicians and patients take away from your report?

Dr. Khan: Families are an underused source of safety information and may provide valuable and complementary reports about medical errors in hospitals.

Medical Research: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Dr. Khan: Hospitals may wish to consider including family reports in their routine safety monitoring systems, and should consider engaging families in safety improvement efforts. More research is needed about parents’  willingness to participate and experience with these efforts, and with their effectiveness. 

Medical Research: Is there anything else you would like to add?

Dr. Khan: In family-centered care, parents and families are important members of a child’s healthcare team, and have a key role in promoting hospital care and patient safety. The findings of this study provide further support for the importance of engaging families alongside providers in a child’s medical care.


Khan A, Furtak SL, Melvin P, Rogers JE, Schuster MA, Landrigan CP. Parent-Reported Errors and Adverse Events in Hospitalized Children. JAMA Pediatr.Published online February 29, 2016. doi:10.1001/jamapediatrics.2015.4608.

Dr. Alisa Khan, MD MPH (2016). Hospitals Should Engaging Patients and Families in Safety Efforts 

Last Updated on February 29, 2016 by Marie Benz MD FAAD