Most people understand that medication errors can cause a profoundly negative, even life-threatening, effect on patients. Whether caused by improper dosage, a failure to recognize multiple medications' potentially adverse interactions or ignorance of a patient's allergies, all types of medication errors can cause serious harm. This is especially true when the patient is an infant or child.
A recent study by doctors in Toronto provides frightening insight into how easily large-scale medication errors occur in the pediatric setting.
Pediatric Dosage Error Study
The study concluded that nearly 5 percent of all medication errors involving children consisted of improper dosages that were 10 times higher or lower than the appropriate amount. This number is incredible, because such a gigantic margin of dosage error can easily result in serious reactions or death when a child is severely overdosed. An extreme underdose can give no benefit to the patient and cause him or her to lose a winnable battle with an illness or infection. Further, imagine the horrific consequences that an anesthetic dosage error could cause when a child is on the operating table in surgery.
The pediatric medication error study, conducted by anesthesiologists at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto, analyzed data from 300 pediatric health care centers over a span of five years. The researchers discovered that extreme tenfold dosage errors typically resulted from the incorrect placement of a decimal point or the inadvertent addition of an extra zero when calculating medication amounts. In another terrifying finding, the drug most commonly overprescribed to children by tenfold dosages was morphine.
Pediatric Medication Errors Are Always Preventable
In today's world, we have little choice but to trust our child's pediatrician, pharmacist or nurse. Medical professionals often go through years of specialized training before they earn the right to help children in a clinical setting. The vast majority of these professionals perform their daily jobs with competence and care. However, all it takes is one mistake - one act of medical negligence - to put a child's life on the line. We expect hospital and pharmacy staff to double-check every aspect of a child's medical care to ensure no mistake is made.
When a medication error causes harm to a child, the parents should hold the at-fault parties accountable; but even when it's obvious that a medication error caused health problems, it is extremely hard to quantify the damages. An experienced medication error attorney can help determine the extent of the harm, the continued difficulties it may present to the child and family, and the monetary value of the pain and suffering it caused.
Reputable personal injury lawyers typically offer free consultations, affording an injured child's parents an opportunity to evaluate the value an attorney can provide in obtaining damages in medication error cases.