Speaking Up: Taking an Active Role in Your Health Care

Our primary goal is to provide you with the highest quality health care to achieve your best possible health. The best way to meet this goal is by working together, and ensuring that our care is patient- and family-centered.

You can take an active role in your and your child's health care by:

  • Asking and answering questions about your child's health status
  • Asking and answering questions about your child's diagnosis and treatment plan
  • Speaking up when you suspect that something is not right

Here are some of the other ways we can work help together to make sure you and your child get the best possible care.


Before any test, procedure or administering medication, we will always ask for TWO pieces of information (typically name and hospital bracelet ID number). If you notice that anyone forgets to ask, PLEASE interrupt and say, "Pardon me, but how do you know that I’m the right patient?"

Medication safety

  • All drugs and herbals have the possibility of interacting with each other in a negative way. Hospitalized patients should never receive any medications from home (not even an aspirin or herbal remedy) unless discussed with the doctor or nurse.
  • Families need to be familiar with the medications the patient is taking and what they look like. If the medication looks different from what you expect, be sure to ask the nurse or doctor to double check the order.
  • Anytime a medication is given, please ask us, "Can you tell me the name of the medication, the dose, and the reason that it is being given?"

Pediatric Hitchcock Early Response Team (PediHERT)

PediHERT is a team of highly skilled pediatric professionals who can help with urgent health problems.

We recognize that families are often the first to notice that a patient is becoming more ill. Families frequently have a great deal of experience in treating a particular illness. When it comes to your child you are the experts.

  • If you are worried about your child, please talk to your nurse about your concerns. In the unlikely event that the nurse or other members of your health care team are not responding to your satisfaction, please say, "Please call PediHERT." You can also use the bedside telephone and dial 5-5555 to request PediHERT.
  • When you call PediHERT, be prepared to tell the operator your child's location and room number, so we can get the team to your side as soon as possible.
  • We will have a team of highly skilled pediatric professionals at the bedside quickly, and they will work directly with the medical team to ensure that urgent health problems are addressed immediately.
  • You can learn more about the PediHERT program from the flyer posted in your room.

Preventing infection

  • Hand washing with soap and water or by using Purell helps prevent infections. We expect all people who interact with patients to wash their hands before and after any patient contact.
  • If you’re not sure that a member of the treatment team has washed their hands, please speak up and say, "Excuse me, but did you remember to wash your hands?"
  • To protect all of our patients, please ask family members and visitors not to visit if they have a cold or other respiratory symptoms.


To protect all of our patients, the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) may screen family and visitors for up-to-date immunization status, such as flu and pneumococcus. This is an opportunity for patients to get updated on immunizations. If any immunizations need to be updated, please notify a member of the care team.


Be sure the health care team knows if your child has is allergies to substances (such as latex), insects, foods, or medication.

Preventing falls

Most falls occur when patients try to get out of bed on their own. To help prevent falls:

  • Ask the nursing staff to help, especially after surgery or receiving pain medicine or at night.
  • Keep the call button near you.
  • Report any spills or clutter on the floor.
  • Wear footwear with rubber soles to prevent slipping.
  • Make sure there is enough light to see.

Equipment safety

  • When you need to leave your baby's room, please put crib rails all the way up before you leave the room, and please tell the nurse if you’re leaving a child alone.
  • Generally, for older patients, one rail of the bed needs to be down at all times to prevent a possible fall by a patient trying to climb over the rail.
  • If your child is using a pump, become familiar with how the alarm sounds. If a pump alarm goes off, your nurse may not hear it quickly, so ring your call bell to alert the nurse. Pumps allow us to deliver medication in an even way, and alarms go off if there is something wrong with the tubing or when the infusion is done.
  • If your child is using a monitor, an alarm will go off if there is a change in your child's condition. The alarm goes off at the nurse's station. It is important that you do not silence any of the alarms. The nurse needs to evaluate why the alarm occurred and make any changes in care as necessary.

We are tobacco free

Please do not use tobacco products in any of our buildings, outside on the sidewalks, or in the parking lots or driveways. Smoking is permitted inside private cars except in the parking garage. Your nurse can assist you with nicotine withdrawal.

We are always looking for ways to improve the safety of you, your child, and family. If you have any concerns or observations, please share them with your health care team and Dr. Sam Casella, Patient Safety and Quality Officer, 603-653-9877 or Samuel.J.Casella@hitchcock.org.