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Sibling screening before inpatient visits


Many St. Jude patients have weakened immune systems and are not able to fight off infection as well as healthy children. Most St. Jude parents understand how important it is to lower the infection risk for their children. The hospital has a program in place to help keep all St. Jude patients safe from infection. Along with excellent infection control practices and strict cleaning, the St. Jude staff also talks with parents about young siblings and other child visitors who could bring illnesses to the hospital.

Everyday survey

When you arrive on the inpatient unit, stop at the nurses’ station for the screening process.

 If your child’s sibling (or another child visitor) is younger than 7 years of age and comes to visit an inpatient unit, a member of the health care team will ask you several questions every day that the child visits. These questions will help the staff know if the sibling (child visitor) needs to be screened by a doctor before getting close to your child and other St. Jude patients.

No exposure/No symptoms graphic

If the visiting child is an infant, 12 months or younger, the baby must be screened by a doctor or nurse. The goal is to protect both the infant visitor and the patient.

If a visiting sibling or other child visitor appears to be 7 years old or younger, an inpatient staff member will ask these screening questions:

  • Has the child been exposed to someone with a cold or fever?
  • Does the child have symptoms of a cold or fever, such as a runny nose, cough, or fever?
  • Has the child had any vomiting or diarrhea?
  • Has the child been exposed to (been in the same room with) someone who has chickenpox or does the child have chickenpox symptoms, such as a rash and fever?
  • Has the child been exposed to pink eye or does the child have pink eye symptoms, such as redness or discharge from the eye?
  • Does the child have a rash (other than a diaper rash)?
  • Has the child had the chickenpox (varicella) vaccine within the past 2 weeks?

If you answer “yes” to any of the questions above, a St. Jude doctor or nurse will need to screen the sibling to decide if the child can visit the inpatient unit.

An apple a day keeps the germs away

Each day that a sibling or other young child visits, a staff member will place an apple sticker on the child’s clothing to show that he has been screened. The sticker will have a letter written on it to show the day of the week that the screening took place. If you have questions or concerns about this infection control program, please talk to your child’s doctor or nurse.


This document is not intended to take the place of the care and attention of your personal physician or other professional medical services. Our aim is to promote active participation in your care and treatment by providing information and education. Questions about individual health concerns or specific treatment options should be discussed with your physician.

St. Jude complies with health care-related federal civil rights laws and does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, age, disability, or sex.

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