What do patients and families observe about pediatric safety? A thematic analysis of real-time narratives

Christine Studenmund, Audrey Lyndon, James R. Stotts, Caroline Peralta-Neel, Anjana E. Sharma, Naomi S. Bardach

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objectives: Data on inpatient safety are documented by hospital staff through incident reporting (IR) systems. Safety observations from families or patients are rarely captured. The Family Input for Quality and Safety (FIQS) study created a mobile health tool for pediatric patients and their families to anonymously report safety observations in real time during hospitalization. The study objectives were to describe these observations and identify domains salient to safety. Methods: In this observational study, we analyzed pediatric patient safety reports from June 2017 to April 2018. Participants were: English-speaking family members and hospitalized patients ≥13 years old. The analysis had two stages: 1) assessment of whether narratives met established safety event criteria and whether there were companion IRs; 2) thematic analysis to identify domains. Results: Of 248 enrolled participants, 58 submitted 120 narrative reports. Of the narratives, 68 (57%) met safety event criteria, while only one (0.8%) corresponded to a staff-reported IR. 25% of narratives shared positive feedback about patient safety efforts; 75% shared constructive feedback. We identified domains particularly salient to safety: 1) patients and families as safety actors; 2) emotional safety; 3) system-centered care; and 4) shared safety domains, including medication, communication, and environment of care. Some domains capture data that is otherwise difficult to obtain (#1-3), while others fit within standard healthcare safety domains (#4). Conclusions: Patients and families observe and report salient safety events that can fill gaps in IR data. Healthcare leaders should consider incorporating patient and family observations—collected with an option for anonymity and eliciting both positive and constructive comments.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalJournal of hospital medicine
StateAccepted/In press - 2024

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Internal Medicine
  • Leadership and Management
  • Fundamentals and skills
  • Health Policy
  • Care Planning
  • Assessment and Diagnosis


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