Speak up for Your Child's Safety

At Riley Children's Hospital at Indiana University Health, our goal is to provide the best and safest medical care possible.Your child's safety while here in the hospital is a top concern. Healthcare providers practice safety every day, but medical errors may still happen.

As a parent or family member, you are a valued part of your child's health care team. We need your help. We encourage you to be an active, involved and informed advocate for your child's safety. Everyone has a role in making health care safe. This brochure gives advice for parents and family members to help us work together to prevent medical errors from happening.

We want to make your child's hospital stay a good experience. We urge parents and families to get involved in the care of their children and to help us find potential errors before they happen.

Hospital staff members try very hard to make sure they are doing the right thing, but medical errors can happen anywhere in the health care system. Often errors result from problems created by today's complex health care system that can involve the use of many different kinds of professionals, technologies, treatments and medicines.

Errors also happen when health care providers, parents, patients or family members have problems communicating. Clear and accurate communication is vital to the safety of your child's care. Always ask questions if there is anything about your child's care that you don't understand.

What Can You Do?

Speak up if you have questions or concerns. If you don't understand, ask. You have a right to know what is happening with your child. The most important way you can help prevent errors is to be an active member of your child's health care team. This means asking to be informed, asking questions and taking part in every decision about your child's health care.

Safety and Your Child's Medicine

Pay attention to the care your child receives. Check to see if your child is getting the right treatments and medicines. Don't assume anything. Tell your nurse or doctor if something doesn't seem quite right.


  • The name and purpose of any medicine your child takes or is given.
  • How often and how long a medicine should be given to your child.

Tell staff:

  • Every medicine your child takes. This includes prescriptions, over-the-counter medicines and dietary supplements such as vitamins and herbs.
  • Your child's weight.
  • About any allergies your child has and how he reacts to medicines.

Ask staff:

  • For information about your child's medicines in words you can understand. Ask when the medicines are ordered and when you get them at the hospital or pharmacy.
  • To clarify directions on your child's medicine labels.
  • For the best way to measure your child's liquid medicine.
  • For help if you are not sure how to use any device.
  • For written information about the side effects your child's medicine could cause.
  • If it is safe to take medicines together - including herbals, vitamins and over-the counter medicines.

Make sure:

  • You recognize a medicine and it is the right one for your child.

Safety and your child's health care providers

Expect health care workers to introduce themselves.You are entitled to know who people are and what they do related to your child's care. Speak up if you have questions or concerns. Here are some questions you can ask:

Who are you?

  • All health care providers should introduce themselves. Look for their identification badge. If you are unsure, ask individuals who they are and what they are there to do.
  • Call your child's doctor or nurse right away if you have questions or concerns or do not get the information you need.You can refuse to allow contact if you are not satisfied a person is a hospital staff member.

Did you wash your hands?

  • Hand washing is the most important way to prevent the spread of infections.
  • Ask all health care workers who have direct contact with your child if they have washed their hands. Don't be afraid to remind a doctor or nurse to do this.

Do you know my child's name?

  • Make sure the nurse or doctor knows your child's name before giving any medicines or treatments.
  • Don't hesitate to tell health care professionals if you think they have confused your child with another patient.

What is my child's medicine schedule?

  • Know the times of the day your child should take medicine. If he does not get the medicine, tell your nurse or doctor.
  • Don't be afraid to tell the nurse or doctor if you think your child is about to get the wrong medicine.
  • Let staff know if your child does not respond in the usual way to medicines he has taken before.

Why are these tests being done?

  • Ask why each test or procedure is being done and how it can help your child. Ask when the results will be ready.

When does the IV fluid get replaced?

  • Ask the nurse how long it should take for the liquid to "run out."
  • Do not turn off the alarms on the equipment without telling the nurse. The alarms alert the nurse to check on the equipment and the IV.
  • If the IV seems to be going too fast, too slow or not at all, tell the nurse right away.

Safety and your child's security

Wear proper identification.

  • Be sure your child wears a hospital identification band that has his name and doctor's name on it. Patients with allergies wear a yellow band. Patients without allergies wear a blue band.
  • Be sure family members get an orange identification pass. Wear it so it can be seen. This lets staff and families know who can be on the unit. Tell your nurse if you need more than two passes.
  • At Riley Children's Hospital at Indiana University Health, family members wear a pink identification band.
  • Tell your nurse if you have any restrictions about who can visit your child.

Safety and your child's surgery

Before, during and after your child's surgery are critical times for everyone. Here are ways to help make it a safe experience:

Know what to expect

  • Ask staff questions. Get written information so you know and understand exactly what will be done during surgery. Speak up if you have concerns.
  • Know what to expect right after surgery, what your child's recovery time should be and what to expect as a result of this surgery in the future.

Seek family support

Riley Children's Hospital at IU Health has many services to support families while they are here. Please let your nurse know if you need help with food, parking fees or a place to stay.

  • Kiwanis volunteers donate time to help with transportation, meals, lodging or tasks at home while families are caring for a sick child. For information, ask your social worker.
  • Riley Hospital for Children Child Advocacy Center at Indiana University Health offers "Sibshops" to provide support for brothers and sisters of children in the hospital. For information, call 317.944.2964.

Stay informed to keep your child safe

Read; ask questions, and share information with staff. Here are some more tips:

  • Get information about your child's condition.Visit the Edward A. Block Family Library at Riley Children's Hospital at IU Health to learn more about your child's medical condition or surgery. If you are unsure how to search for information, call the librarian at 317.948.1645 for help. At IU Health Methodist Hospital, call 317.962.3144 to get the access code for the Family Library located on the 6th floor of the East Building.
  • Write down important information your doctor tells you. Ask for any written handouts you can keep.You might want to keep all the materials together in a notebook.
  • Read all medical forms. Make sure you understand everything before signing them. If you don't understand, ask your doctor or nurse to explain them.
  • Know how to operate equipment that will be used in your child's care at home. Classes are given by the home health care company providing the equipment.
  • Before your child goes home, make sure you understand all of your child's discharge instructions and follow-up care. Ask any questions you have.
  • Know how to transport your child safely in your vehicle. If you are unsure, ask to speak to an Automotive Safety Resource Nurse on your unit, or contact the Automotive Safety Coordinator at 317.944.1235. At IU Health Methodist Hospital, call 317.962.2272.
  • Plan ahead for safety at home.Visit the Riley Hospital for Children Safety Store at Indiana University Health to learn about and take home low-cost child safety products that can help make your home safe for you, your children and other family members. For information, call 317.944.2964.

Your child's safety in the hospital is a responsibility we all share.You are our most important partner in making sure you and your child are safe while you are here.

Speak up for your child's safety!

For more information

Riley Children's Hospital at IU Health and Riley Children's Hospital at IU Health Methodist Hospital are part of IU Health Partners. Both IU Health and Riley Children's Hospital at IU Health have Safe Passage Councils to look at any safety concerns brought up by staff or families. The Riley Council reviews each issue and creates steps to make both Riley at IU Health sites an even safer place for your child. If you have any concerns about your child's safety, call IU Health's Safe Passage Council at 317.962.2130 or contact us by mail at:

Riley Children's Hospital at IU Health
Office of Administration
Safe Passage Council
705 Riley Hospital Drive
Indianapolis, IN 46202

Riley Children's Hospital at IU Health Methodist Hospital
1801 North Capitol Avenue
Indianapolis, IN 46206