We hope that you found our series on the emergency department, hospitalization and insurance helpful. One resounding note in each of the interviews we did was the critical role that families play in the care of their child, particularly in the emergency department or hospital. Today we turn our focus to ways in which families can share their experiences, both good and not so good, with various Seattle Children’s systems of care (including emergency department, inpatient hospitalization, and outpatient clinics) and get a response to questions and concerns. Providers need family feedback. We need to hear from you how to best care for your child within the constraints we face.

We realize that many of our readers are outside of the Seattle area, however every medical institution is required to provide an avenue for patients and families to provide feedback such as an Ombudsman or Patient Advocate. It is our hope that through this post you can find guidance in your area, whether it be at Seattle Children’s or another facility.

We interviewed Mark Mendelow, LICSW; Manager of Patient and Family Relations at Seattle Children’s. Mark has been a Social Worker in practice for over 30 years, and has been at Seattle Children’s for almost 11 years.

theautismblog: Will you describe what the Patient and Family Relations Program is?

Mendelow: Patient and Family Relations is a program of Patient & Family Support Services and was created to support our ongoing efforts to improve our service to patients and families. We serve as a liaison with patients, families, and hospital staff to help resolve complex or formal complaints and grievances.

theautismblog: How do patients and families provide feedback:

Mendelow: There are several options:

  1. The best way is directly from the patient or parent to the treatment team in the moment. All staff are then expected to enter the feedback into the eFeedbackNOW site, which generates a  process that ultimately includes a review by senior hospital leadership.
  2. From a comment card located at various locations in the hospital and clinics
  3. From our Seattle Children’s website www.seattlechildrens.org/familyfeedback
  4. Email to [email protected]
  5. Call Patient and Family Relations (206) 987-2550

theautismblog: How many complaints do you receive in a year?

Mendelow: We documented about 1500 this past year

theautismblog: Why is it important for families to provide feedback? 

Mendelow: Feedback from families has been instrumental to changing processes, and enhancing family centered care provided at Seattle Children’s. The Patient and Family Relations Program reports quarterly to the Hospital Steering Committee, and annually to the Quality and Safety Committee. 

theautismblog: What should someone expect with regards to response if they do provide feedback?

Mendelow: Typically there is a response within the week from someone on the Patient and Family Relations team, and/or the manager of the particular department. Depending on the complexity of the situation, there may be a more detailed response or resolution within 30 days of the feedback.

theautismblog: How many staff are on the Patient & Family Relations team?

Mendelow: Three—Patty Prado (who is bilingual/Spanish speaking), Amanda Mogg, RN and myself.

theautismblog: We sometimes hear concerns from families that providing feedback might have a negative impact on their child’s care. Can you comment on this?

Mendelow: Providing feedback will not negatively affect a child’s care. We realize it can be difficult to express dissatisfaction with staff. We try very hard to make this process as easy and comfortable as possible. We appreciate hearing and need to know when things are not right, so we can continually improve our systems.

theautismblog: What about experiences that have gone well, or great? Do you want to hear about those as well?

Mendelow: Yes, we love to hear about the good, and ultimately recognize those who were involved in those experiences.

theautismblog: In your 11 years at Seattle Children’s, what do you think has been the biggest impact on services based on family feedback?

Mendelow: Feedback has helped shape how we provide service and we’ve increased our senior leadership’s attention to the voice of our families. I would highlight these three areas as pivotal to impact based on my experience.

  1. We can only improve what we know about.
  2. We try to provide the best care, and we know there is always room to do better.
  3. We love to hear the good.

Thanks, Mark, for sharing with us some avenues for patients and families to share their experiences regarding their care.