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Charles H. Hood Foundation | Alisa Khan, M.D., M.P.H. – July 2018
By identifying innovative pediatric advancements and providing funding in the critical phases of development, we are able to expedite high-impact breakthroughs that improve the health and lives of millions.
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Alisa Khan, M.D., M.P.H.

Instructor in Pediatrics

Boston Children’s Hospital

A Mobile Application to Engage Families of Hospitalized Children in Safety Reporting


Key Words: Family Safety Reporting, Family Engagement, Medical Errors and Adverse Events, Hospital Safety, mHealth

Over 250,000 US patients die yearly from medical errors, making errors a leading cause of death. Families of hospitalized pediatric patients are high-yield reporters of medical errors and adverse events (AEs). We previously found that 9-26% of families of hospitalized children report safety concerns, many of which are otherwise undocumented. Families report similar rates of errors/AEs as providers (when providers’ reports are actively solicited) and 3-5 times higher rates than voluntary hospital incident reporting systems (which typically exclude patients/families). However, family safety reporting has not been operationalized in hospitals.


Leveraging health information technology (IT) can help fill the gap between researching and operationalizing family safety reporting. A few recent efforts to engage adult patients/families in safety reporting through health IT demonstrate that IT tools work well and identify important safety issues. However, these tools suffer from poor reporting rates that are orders of magnitude lower than those found in our prior research.


We seek to leverage the efficiencies of health IT while incorporating lessons learned in our research to develop a family safety reporting approach that is active, health-literacy-informed, and engages families and interprofessional team members in order to achieve—operationally—the high rates of reporting we observed previously.


We propose to develop a mobile family safety reporting application for routine operational hospital use adapted from prior research and IT tools, bolstered by: a health-literacy-informed curriculum to activate and educate families about hospital safety, a program to train and encourage providers to engage families in hospital safety, and a unit-wide, multimodal, interprofessional safety culture campaign.


We hypothesize that family safety reporting rates will increase significantly following our intervention. By leveraging the unique expertise and partnership of families, our project has the potential to identify and prevent medical errors/AEs, thereby improving the safety and quality of care hospitals provide to children.