Drug Errors Harm 1 in 15 Hospitalized Children

May 21, 2008 11:10 AM
by findingDulcinea Staff
A new scientific detection method indicates that 7.3 percent of hospitalized children—or about 540,000 kids a year—are hurt by drug-related events.

30-Second Summary

The first scientific test of the new method shows that the number of medicine errors, accidental overdoses and adverse drug reactions that hurt hospitalized children far exceeds earlier estimates based on traditional detection techniques.

More than half of the errors found in the study related to problems stemming from the use of powerful painkillers, such as morphine.

The new detection system uses a list of 15 “triggers” that suggest potential drug-related problems. For example, the appearance of vitamin K on a child patient’s chart is a trigger, because the vitamin cancels out the effects of the blood thinner Coumadin.

Most of the errors—97 percent—caused only minor, temporary harm, including nausea and rashes.

The issue of medical errors among hospitalized children was spotlighted last year when actor Dennis Quaid’s newborn twins were given a massive overdose of the blood thinner heparin while at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.

The twins recovered, and Quaid became a vocal advocate for improving patient safety, establishing a foundation to promote the cause.

According to the National Academy of Science’s Institute of Medicine, as many as 100,000 people a year die from medical mistakes.

Headline Links: Drug errors more frequent than previously thought

Related Topic: Dennis Quaid’s quest for patient safety

Simple human errors the result of a larger problem

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