Parents are eagle-eyed during a child's hospital stay

August 12, 2009

They're scared of hospitals and doctors. They're unsure about the treatments. They're not patients, though, but the patients' parents.

They’re scared of hospitals and doctors. They’re unsure about the treatments. They’re not patients, though, but the patients’ parents.

Researcher Beth Tarini, MD, and colleagues asked a question to 278 parents of children admitted to Seattle’s Children’s hospital and Regional Medicine Center. That question was: “When my child is in the hospital I feel that I have to watch over the care that he/she is receiving to make sure that mistakes aren't made.” Sixty-three percent agreed with the statement.

The number could be due to communication issues: every participant who said they felt uncomfortable talking with physicians in English said yes to the question. But fewer parents with more confidence about their communication abilities with doctors said they would be as vigilant. The report was published in the Journal of Hospital Medicine.

Being hawkish about a child’s care, of course, is not a negative. Many groups advocate for parents to take a strong role in their child’s health care, and many pediatricians put more stock in a parent’s suspicions than in a lab test result. But having almost two thirds of parents in a state of distrust with their children’s doctors certainly leaves room for improvement.