Widespread Incidence of Pediatric Medication Errors

pediatric%20medication%20errors.jpgMedication errors are some of the most frequent medical errors, and they can be even more devastating when they involve children. A new study finds that approximately every eight minutes, a child becomes the victim of a medication error in the United States.

The study conducted by scientists at the Center for Pediatric Trauma Research at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus Ohio, found that as many as 700,000 children below the age of six were victims of medication errors in the decade between 2002 and 2012.

Most of those medication errors in the study have to do with the wrong dosage of medication, or wrong medication altogether. Thankfully, most of the errors were not life-threatening. In fact as many as 92% of the medical errors did not require additional medical treatment. Unfortunately, some of these errors did result in fatalities: Twenty-five children died because they were either given the wrong medication or too much or a medication which was ordered by a physician. In addition, approximately 1,900 children were treated in critical care in hospitals after receiving the wrong dosage or wrong medications.

Most shocking is the fact that most of the errors involved children below the age of one. In fact, the younger the child, the higher the risk of an error. One out of five children who was the victim of a medication error was below one year of age.

Many pediatric medication errors occur because of miscommunication between caregivers. For instance, one caregiver may give the medication, and another caregiver who is not aware that the child has already received a medication may give another dose. A young child may not be able to tell the caregiver that he has already received the medication.

Another feature that emerged from the study was that a majority of the errors involved liquid medications with as many as 8 out of 10 errors involving liquid medication. The reason for this fact is not so hard to understand: Most drugs for children tend to be in liquid form.

Earlier studies have indicated that many medication errors involving children are related to errors while using a device for administration. For instance, when parents make mistakes using teaspoons or tablespoons to give their children medication, they are at risk of delivering a dosage that is too-high or too-low. When the medications come with instructions that require parents to use teaspoons or tablespoons, parents are much more likely to make errors. In fact, parents and caregivers were twice as likely to make medication errors when they were given these instructions than when the instructions mentioned milliliters.

Some of the most common medication errors for pediatric patients involve cough and cold medications. These comprised approximately 25% of the errors. Antihistamines and antibiotics made up approximately 15% and 12% of the errors respectively.

Medication errors are not only frequent, but also serious and can result in injuries or fatalities. If you have suffered injuries as a result of medication errors, or any other form of medical negligence, speak to one our skilled Indiana medical malpractice attorneys at the law firm of Montross Miller Muller Mendelson & Kennedy, LLC. Call today.