A research team led by Carolyn Foster, MD, MS, Attending Physician at Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago, and Nicole Werner, PhD, Associate Professor at Indiana University Bloomington, has received a $2 million grant award from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality to fund the study, “The SafeCare@Home4Kids Learning Lab: Designing Safer Healthcare at Home for Children.” 

Children with medical complexity are an increasing population of medically fragile patients with disability who require substantial amounts of care. Families of these children are faced with providing increasingly more medical care at home, including safely administering intricate medication regimens through implanted devices, such as a tube inserted into the stomach. While it is known that medication errors or device-related adverse events are occurring at home, the healthcare system does not currently provide ways to identify and reduce these healthcare safety threats. 

This research will bring together experts in patient safety, human factors engineering, nursing, pediatrics, home healthcare, informatics, and lived family experience for a collaborative Patient Safety Learning Lab called “SafeCare@Home4Kids” to design innovative, effective, and equitable approaches to prevent medication errors or device-related adverse events experienced by diverse children at home. The research team includes collaboration with clinician-researchers at Northwestern University’s Center for Health Services and Outcomes Research and Boston Children’s Hospital, as well partnership with the University of Illinois Chicago’s Division of Specialized Care for Children, Team Select Home Care, Children and Youth with Special Health Care Needs National Research Network, and Almost Home Kids (Almost Home Kids is affiliated with Lurie Children’s). National pediatric nursing and home health care experts as well as patient family advocates representing diverse communities will also be involved in research design and dissemination. 

Together, this group will work to better understand how family caregivers and home nurses currently identify, communicate, and prevent healthcare safety errors and adverse events at home. Additionally, they will use input from families, home nurses, prescribing providers, and safety experts to co-design, implement, and evaluate a digital safety toolkit that addresses these healthcare safety events to improve patient safety at home. The project period is from September 30, 2023, to July 31, 2027.  

SafeCare@Home4Kids represents a major shift in safety research toward focusing on the home as a fundamental healthcare practice setting for children and serving populations who may not otherwise be empowered or supported to address the safety of their children’s healthcare. “By combining health services research and human factors engineering with patient-family partnership, I believe we can meaningfully impact healthcare no matter where a child calls home,” said Dr. Foster, who is the principal investigator of the Foster Health Lab.  

Pediatric research at Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago is conducted through Stanley Manne Children’s Research Institute.