Adverse Events and Medical Errors Suffered by Children in Hospitals

Children are continuing to be harmed in hospitals by events that should rarely take place but for a preventable mistake.

An adverse event is patient harm created by an error during medical care. Examples of preventable medical mistakes that can lead to serious, even fatal adverse events for hospital patients include hospital-acquired infections, surgical errors, and medication errors.

While hospital patients of any age should not be subjected to serious medical errors, the consequences suffered by younger patients from mistakes in care oftentimes are severe. Yet a recent study shows that rate of adverse events experienced by pediatric patients in hospitals is not improving.

The study (Adverse Events in Hospitalized Pediatric Patients), published in April in Pediatrics, included a review of 3,790 children patient records from 16 hospitals, both teaching and nonteaching facilities. The study period was 2007 through 2012.

Researchers found these pediatric patients suffered 414 adverse events, or a rate of 19 every 1,000 hospital patient days. Ten percent of the hospital adverse events were categorized life-threatening. About a third required prolonged hospital care for the children.  And half of the adverse events were preventable.

Most Common Hospital Care Adverse Event

The most common adverse event suffered by children while in the hospital was a hospital-acquired infection. This is not surprising as numerous organizations warn that infections from hospitalization pose serious health hazards and are on the rise. Young hospital patients are not spared from this danger.

The second and third most common adverse events for pediatric hospital patients were complications from an intravenous line followed by respiratory-related harm.

And adverse events occurred more often in teaching hospitals than nonteaching hospitals.

Pediatric Intensive Care Unit Errors

According to media reports, the study’s authors referenced high rates of adverse events for pediatric hospital patients found by other researchers as additional cause for alarm. These findings included 74 adverse events per 100 admissions to neonatal intensive care units and 203 adverse events per 100 pediatric intensive care unit patients.

The study shows no drop in the number of medical errors that harm pediatric hospital patients for several years. They authors therefore suggest that hospitals step up their efforts to prevent such dangerous adverse events and medical errors.

If healthcare professionals and facilities don’t provide an adequate standard of care, they should be held responsible for their negligence. If your child or any loved one was critically hurt during a stay in the hospital, discuss your case with an experienced medical malpractice lawyer.

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

Authored by Gray, Ritter & Graham, P.C., posted in Blog July 20, 2018