A new study found 11 per cent of hospitalized children in the U.S. were given wrong drugs or accidental overdoses. Researchers also noted that 22 per cent of these medical errors were preventable.
Digital Journal — Actor Dennis Quaid may have put the issue in the spotlight when his newborns were accidentally overdosed, but medical mix-ups involving children are a bigger problem than it ever used to be. A new study found about 11 per cent of hospitalized children in the U.S. were given wrong drugs or too much of a certain drug.
Published in the April issue of Pediatrics, the study reported 11 drug-related harmful incidents for every 100 hospitalized children. That new statistic is much higher than the earlier estimate of two per 100 hospitalized kids. According to government data, the new data reveals medical errors affecting roughly 540,000 kids per year.
The study’s authors, largely from Children's Hospital Los Angeles, also wrote:
Most adverse drug events resulted in temporary harm, and 22 per cent were classified as preventable.
Researchers identified several “triggers” that alerted them to misdiagnosed medications Among them was the use of vitamin K, which acts against overdoses of blood thinners, and lab tests that found blood-clotting as a result of blood thinner overdoses. They also discovered the presence of the drug naloxone, an antidote for an overdose of morphine and related painkillers.
The authors added:
The most common adverse drug events identified were pruritis and nausea, the most common medication classes causing adverse drug events were opioid analgesics and antibiotics, and the most common stages of the medication management process associated with preventable adverse drug events were monitoring and prescribing/ordering.
The issue of prescribing wrong drugs to children came to light when Quaid’s newborn twins were accidentally given overdoses of blood-thinner heparin in November 2007. Quaid has since formed a foundation to prevent medical errors, and has assured media his children are recovering successfully.
When Associated Press asked him what he would recommend to parents of hospitalized children, he responded with a useful bit of advice:
Every time a caregiver comes into the room, I would check and ask the nurse what they're giving them and why.