Patient feedback matters: A look inside the emergency department

20160310_EDbadges-3Wearing their new color-coded badges: Dr. Matthew Eisenberg, Attending Physician, Emergency Medicine; Fran Damian, Nursing Director, Patient Care Services; Jason Dupuis, Director of Admitting and Emergency Services

If your child has spent time at Boston Children’s Hospital recently, you may have received a survey in the mail or by email asking about your visit. These surveys are part of a hospital-wide initiative begun almost a year ago, to help us evaluate our patients’ experience.

“Listening to patients and families helps us do our jobs better and improve the care future patients receive,” says Dr. Sara Toomey,  medical director of Patient Experience at Boston Children’s. Toomey’s colleagues get together every month to review the surveys and share out the learnings as appropriate.

Jason Dupuis, director of Admitting and Emergency Services, has received valuable feedback about the emergency department (ED) from the surveys. “Our families are very perceptive about what’s going on. Many of their comments are spot on.” The ED recently made three improvements in response to these comments.


“The clinician didn’t introduce herself or explain her role.”

A common complaint from patients and families is they don’t know who’s who. “We’re a big teaching hospital,” says Dupuis, “so there can be residents, fellows, attending physicians, nurses, clinical assistants, social workers, child life specialists and administrators in the room.” In an already stressful situation, not being able to quickly distinguish a doctor from a social worker adds to families’ anxiety.

Dupuis and his team took action. Color-coded badges were made to hang below the Boston Children’s badge and quickly identify a person’s role. Other hospital departments are seeing the benefit to both patients and staff, and are beginning to use these same badges.


“The rooms are cold.”

Throughout the winter, many families reported the rooms were cold. Staff assumed the problem stemmed from the wind tunnel effect from a construction project, but the problem persisted even after construction finished. Now Environmental Services (ESD) staff places blankets at the foot of each bed, a change that comforts families.


“The TV doesn’t work.”

When multiple families reported they couldn’t work the TV, staff discovered the problem: the TV remotes were being placed on top of the patient’s medical equipment. Many families thought the remote was part of the monitor and were afraid to touch it. Again, the ED made a simple change and asked ESD staff to leave the TV remotes in plain sight on the beds.

“Although I proposed the solutions to the issues raised by our patients and families, I am only one spoke in the larger wheel,” says Dupuis. “Change happened quickly because of the support of the Patient Experience team, and the willingness of ESD to change their process. We’re all in this together.”


FamilyAdvisoryCouncilAt Boston Children’s Hospital, we recognize that our patients and their families are the experts on their health care experience. Our Family Partnerships program offers different opportunities for patients and families to get involved and impact patient care.