Go ahead, ask. Patient safety comes first

“It’s OK to ask.”

That’s the message of a Greater Cincinnati Health Council-backed campaign to promote patient safety. The idea is that health care providers want patients to be more proactive in their dealings with doctors, nurses and other caregivers.

It’s OK to ask if we washed our hands. It’s OK to ask if that’s the right medicine for my child. It’s OK to ask if they’ve double checked they’re in the right room and talking to the right patient. (A story in yesterday’s Cincinnati Enquirer detailed the campaign.)

At Cincinnati Children’s, we’re glad to be a part of the campaign. In fact, we’ve been encouraging patient and family involvement for years. Parents can call a code. Parents can call a rapid response team if they just think something’s not quite right.

“We know we need to shut up. We need to listen. We need to ask,” says Steve Muething, MD, our patient safety officer.

When parents have questions about care, we try to have them talk to two people, not just one. That’s because two hear better than one, especially if the one is responsible for a potential error.

This is all part of our culture of safety. Each day, we ask ourselves what we can do to provide better care. Yes, it’s time to ask. Please do. We’re listening.


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  1. Lisa Gualtieri March 24, 20:40
    I'm curious how you selected Hand Washing, Patient Identification, Patient Falls & Fall Prevention, and Medications in your campaign, and if that was based on a patient survey, a hospital employee survey, or an assessment of errors.
  2. Kate Setter
    Kate Setter March 25, 16:05
    Lisa - We're looking into the answer for your question. Because this is a Greater Cincinnati Health Council - backed campaign, we want to make sure we provide you information directly from them.
  3. Kate Setter
    Kate Setter March 26, 13:36
    Lisa - The following is the response we received from the Greater Cincinnati Health Council in response to your question: "Those 4 areas were noted by the committee as having the biggest impact on patient safety in hospitals. They recognize there were other important areas we could have included, such as having a patient advocate, and plan to add on throughout the year." Additional information is available at gchc.org if you're interested.
  4. Ginny A. Miller March 31, 11:44
    This becomes especially challenging once your "child" turns 18 and is supposed to be "self-advocating". Our son has memory problems that are often pretty severe. He cannot always remember to ask what he needs. He does ask for his parents to be involved when he is inpatient (different hospital) and has been turned down at times for family sessions. This is especially frustrating. Despite his obtaining a healthcare proxy he has not always been allowed to get parental involvement when he needed it. He does not always understand, but does not know what to ask or to tell us what doctors have said when we are not there. This frustrates all of us. We get left out simply because of his age. We have worked for years to teach him for the day he would be 18, but his increasing memory issues because of his medical problems cause concern. We are told he must "Self-advocate". This was true after a suicide attempt when he was greatly impaired. This was also true in two hospitalizations when we were promised we WOULD be allowed involvement. He has been let down. Advocating for your own care is difficult when you are ill. Any age this is true. When there are cognitive and other issues that cause more concern, it multiplies the issues for concern. Family members do not always do the best things. WHen the patient ASKS for help from family, Clinicians SHOULD honor the requests. Ginny miller