Patient safety is the top priority at Children’s Hospital Central California. In a continuing effort to ensure no child suffers a cardiopulmonary arrest, or code, we added another tool to identify when a hospitalized child’s health is severely weakening.
Since parents know their child best, Children’s partners with them to provide the best care. In 2012 the Hospital developed and piloted Condition HELP – a rapid response team that patients and families can phone 24/7 if they believe their child’s health is rapidly declining and staff is not noticing the changes, or if there is a communication issue with their healthcare team. The Condition HELP Response Team will be in the child’s room within 10 minutes.
In December, Children’s launched this nurse-driven program across six acute care inpatient areas totaling about 200 beds. This extra layer of defense is inspired by the efforts of Sorrel King, whose 18-month-old daughter, Josie, died because of medical errors and poor communication in one of the best hospitals in the country.
“Condition HELP does not replace communication between the family and healthcare team but serves as a safety net if that communication fails,” said Jennifer Reyes, RN, director, inpatient services, who led the Condition HELP initiative at Children’s.
Patient families learn about the program upon admission to the Hospital as well as from their child’s nurse. Other caregivers, wall posters translated in different languages, information handouts, etc., help reinforce the message throughout the acute care units.
Several patient families have utilized Condition HELP appropriately for a variety of reasons since the program began at Children’s. The first parent to use the system was pleased with the actions of the response team. “They got here quickly and answered my questions about my son,” stated the mom in a follow-up evaluation.
In 2007, Children’s created a Rapid Response Team of nurses and doctors that quickly comes to a patient’s room when a staff member sees a patient getting worse. In 2010, Children’s began using a scoring system to help identify when a patient’s condition is deteriorating. Together these initiatives have prevented numerous patients from requiring an emergency response and CPR.
“Parents are more than just visitors and we wanted to tap into their expertise,” said Reyes, noting the Hospital may eventually expand Condition HELP to the intensive care units. “Condition HELP is another component of patient safety to achieve our goal of zero codes – and get kids back to being kids.”