Frequency of medication errors among children is surprising

Medical errors come in a variety of forms, including birth injuries, surgical errors, failure to diagnose, and so on. One form of medical error that is often overlooked, though, is medication errors. Mistakes with respect to the type and amount of medication are very common, though, particularly among young children. According to a new study published in the journal Pediatrics, medication errors occur, on average, every eight minutes among a certain subset of children.

According to that article, the study looked at medication errors which were reported to US poison control centers between 2002 and 2012. A total of 63,358 children below 6 years of age had been reported as experiencing a medication error, which amounts to one every eight minutes. The majority of these medication errors involved liquid medicine, with tablet and capsule errors being the next largest category. Many of the errors occurred when medication was given too soon. 

Though the number of children who die from medication errors is small—in this study twenty-five died over an 11-year period—this is still too many. Many medication errors occur because of user error, but one interesting thing the study said is that one way to reduce the number of medication errors is to improve labeling so that parents and caretakers cannot misinterpret it so easily.

Though the study didn’t appear to mention anything about medication errors on the part of prescribing physicians, such accidents do happen, however infrequently, and it is important for those who are harmed by such accidents to understand their legal rights and work with an experienced attorney in seeking appropriate compensation.

Source: TIME, “Child Medication Errors Occur Every 8 Minutes, Study Says,” Alexandra Sifferlin, Oct. 20, 2014. 

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