Patient & Family Advisory Councils Lead to High Reliability


Historically, patients and their families have been overlooked as a resource for developing care delivery improvement solutions. Committees and councils were comprised almost exclusively of hospital staff. 

The Goal:

The main goal is to provide a collaborative environment that will enhance the experience for patients and families at MUSC Health through patient- and family-centered care. Tapping into the patient and family experience is an ideal way to pinpoint opportunities for improvement and harm avoidance.

Method & Implementation:

MUSC Health organized Patient and Family Advisory Councils (PFACs), which are groups that bring together family representatives and hospital staff members to better address the needs of patients and families.  PFACs meet regularly (typically monthly) to discuss issues such as patient care, the hospital environment and healthcare policies and procedures. Patients and families provide advice and are a key part of the decision-making process.   

Family Advisory Council members must:

  • Be committed to the welfare of all patients and families
  • Be open to and accepting of diversity in opinions and ideas
  • Attend monthly meetings
  • Complete the online application process through Volunteer Services


Other hospitals have seen their patient satisfaction scores dramatically improve when implementing new procedures based on PFACs (Haycock, 2012).

Return on Investment:

Committees: Members serve on hospital committees, including Safety Rounds and Patient Satisfaction groups, and also played an integral role in the design of the new Shawn Jenkins Children's Hospital.

Patient Handbook: Members have reviewed and revised the Children's Hospital Patient Handbook

Grand Rounds: Members routinely share their stories at pediatric Grand Rounds.

Waiting Rooms: Members gave feedback on the design of waiting rooms and parent lounges.

Design and Construction: Members provide feedback and participate in the planning of new spaces. Parents have been assigned to the clinical teams as well as a patient experience team for the design of the new Shawn Jenkins Children’s Hospital and Women’s Pavilion.

Hospitality Checklist: Members assisted in the formation of a hospitality checklist.

Sickle Cell Patients: Members advocated successfully to improve pain management protocol for sickle cell patients in the emergency department.

Children’s Hospital Association (CHA) Advocacy: Members and families participate in the CHA Advocacy Days in Washington, DC

Institute for Patient and Family Centered Care: Some members have received training sponsored by the Institute for Patient and Family-Centered Care.

Support Group: The Parent Partner group offers emotional support for parents in neonatal nurseries.

Children's Hospital Chapel: Members provided input for the establishment of the Children's Hospital Chapel, dedicated to Christina Akabidavis, a founding member of the group.

Resource Room: A Family Resource Room for all families was established.

To learn more about our MUSC's Patient & Family Advisory Council, a full SCHA story is available here.

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