Serious Hospital Drug Errors That Harm Pediatric Patients

newbornMedication errors are a leading cause of serious medical mistakes in this country. While drug errors can be dangerous for adult hospital patients, they can be even more catastrophic and frequent for hospitalized children.

A study in 2006 raised awareness of pediatric drug errors, also known as pediatric drug adverse reactions. The researchers reviewed patient records over a 10-year period at a teaching children’s hospital. They studied incidences of hospitalized kids who suffered a serious reaction to medicines they were given. There were over 1,000 young patients who had an adverse drug reaction during those 10 years.

The researchers found that the most severe adverse reactions to medicines were suffered by children who underwent surgery. They also uncovered that less than one-third of the threatening situations ever made it to the patients’ charts.

Common Pediatric Patient Drug Errors

In 2006 and 2007, a commercial database that tracks medication errors reported that the most common drug errors suffered by children were:

  • The wrong dosage – 38 percent of drug errors
  • A drug error of omission – 20 percent
  • The wrong drug given to pediatric patients – 14 percent

Fast-forward to 2016. Serious drug errors suffered by hospitalized children remains a major issue.

That’s why the Patient Safety Movement Foundation, a group of safety advocates that hopes to end all medical errors by 2020, recently announced “Pediatric Adverse Drug Events” as a new patient safety challenge. That brings the number of items on the organization’s patient safety concerns to 15, which includes hospital medication errors in general.

Why Drug Errors are More Dangerous to Children

Medication errors with young hospital patients can be much more harmful – even fatal – compared with adult patients for several reasons:

  • Their younger bodies simply can’t tolerate serious medical errors
  • Most of the drugs are formulated for adults so often times catastrophic mistakes are made when altering medicines for children
  • The majority of hospitals are geared toward adult patients so they may lack proper guidelines or expertise for effective pediatric care
  • Children may not be able to communicate well the bad reactions they are having to their prescribed medicines

Treating hospital patients is never routine. When the patients are young children, it can be even more challenging. So healthcare providers, including doctors, nurses, and pharmacists, should take all reasonable precautions when prescribing and fulling medication orders to children.

If you had a child that was seriously injured due to a hospital’s mistake in dispensing medication, you may want to consult an attorney experienced in investigating catastrophic medical errors.

The choice of a lawyer is an important decision that should not be based solely on advertising.