Healthcare News & Insights

Why all hospitals should be more like children’s hospitals with patient care

When it comes to patient satisfaction and improving the quality of patient care, all hospitals can take a page from their pediatric peers.

57440187A recent article in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) illustrates this point well. In the piece, medical resident Mark Attiah argues that many of the methods children’s hospitals use for their young patients can make the patient experience better for people of all ages.

At children’s hospitals, special attention is given to the comfort of the patient. Hospitals can be scary places, especially for a young person who’s sick and vulnerable. So procedures are specifically tailored to be less threatening and intimidating for children.

And the environment at children’s hospitals is designed to be more welcoming and fun. Organized games, activities and special visitors help distract children from their pain and make the experience more comfortable.

Patient care in children’s hospitals is also designed with the child’s comfort in mind, particularly when it comes to family involvement. If there’s a need for an emergency procedure in a children’s hospital, family members are usually allowed to be in the room during treatment. They can even accompany the patient to the operating table. With adult patients, however, families are typically asked to leave.

Visiting hours at children’s hospitals are more flexible, which leads to even more family involvement. Family members are allowed to be present with children at all times of day, with few restrictions.

So why don’t adults get similar consideration?

Improving experiences

Whether a patient is an adult or child, the hospital experience can be disorienting. Shouldn’t hospitals do everything possible to keep patients from experiencing discomfort?

It may be presumed that adults have “outgrown” such discomfort and can handle the normal conditions of a hospital. But research has shown that comfort is key to helping patients avoid complications during their hospital stay.

And family involvement also improves adult patients’ care, as evidenced by a study referenced in an article in LiveScience. When patients were allowed to have family members present during major procedures, their recovery was better. Plus, the family members’ presence didn’t have any negative effects on staffers – or any adverse legal consequences, as some hospitals may fear.

In an era where patient satisfaction assessments are beginning to be tied to reimbursement, giving all patients the best experience possible is worthwhile to any hospital’s bottom line. Plus patients who are in higher spirits tend to have better outcomes, which can decrease the chance of being readmitted for the same condition at a later date.

Here are just a few examples of some patient-friendly features typically seen in children’s hospitals that all hospitals can adopt:

  • Expanded visiting hours. Allowing patients’ family members to spend more time with the patient can boost their morale, making recovery more swift.
  • Increased family involvement. Since patients tend to be more disoriented in the hospital, having family members on hand who are fully versed in the patient’s treatment plan can be beneficial to the patient’s health, especially when staff relay instructions concerning post-discharge care.
  • A welcoming environment. Instead of the drab look many hospitals have, children’s hospitals are decorated with bright colors and art on the walls. Rooms have more natural lighting and usually contain more of the comforts of home than the standard hospital room. Adult patients would welcome these features, too.
  • Engaged staff members. Staffers at children’s hospitals often have a good bedside manner with their patients and are generally happy to be there – factors that can positively affect a patient’s experience at any hospital. Encouraging staff to be friendly and open to patients goes a long way toward improving a patient’s quality of care.


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  1. Enrico Dall'Osto says:

    I totally agree with the essence of the article. As architect with many renovation and refurbishment projects in healthcare buildings, from many years I’m struggling to pay attention at perceptive aspects. A rich stimulus environment really help healing process. Good article Jess White.