65,000 children are victims of medication errors every year

 
Category: 
Medical Malpractice

By Howard Ankin, a workers compensation and personal injury attorney in Chicago.

A new study found in the journal Pediatrics reports that pediatric patients experience medication errors every eight minutes in the U.S. This type of medical error reaches an average of almost 65,000 children every year.

According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, a medication error occurs whenever any type of preventable event happens that may lead to or cause a patient to receive inappropriate medication or cause patient harm while a drug is in the control of a healthcare professional, consumer or patient. This could include patients being given too much of a prescribed medication, a medication that is prescribed which interacts negatively with another drug, or when patients receive the wrong drug entirely.

Why do medication errors occur?

When children are the victims of medication mistakes while under the care of a medical professional, it is often due to many of the same errors that occur with adult patients. These situations can include the following:

  • Improper reading of medication labels, including misreads due to medication name similarities and packaging.
  • Errors in inputting information into electronic medical records.
  • Ordering errors.
  • Miscommunication between caregivers.
  • Improper dispensing of properly prescribed drugs.
  • Lack of education among caregivers

A large number of medication errors occur with children due to their small size and weight, which significantly reduces the window of appropriate dosing for many drugs.

Prevention steps families can take

When in the hospital, parents and other family members of small children can take steps to ensure that they remain safe and free of medication errors by being vigilant. Many people may feel out of place asking about the medications and dosages that their children receive, but that is precisely what parents should do. When a caregiver comes in to dispense a medication, patients and their advocates have the right to ask what drug is being administered and in what dosage. Asking for nurses to verify that the medication is on the list of prescribed medications can help prevent many types of errors from occurring. Although some nurses may push back against this type of questioning, they may be relieved when a parent’s questions help them catch a potentially deadly mistake before it occurs.

No child should have to endure the effects of being improperly medication. Those who have loved ones who have been affected by a medication mistake should contact a Chicago Heights medical error attorney immediately. With their help, injured patients may receive compensation for their experience, including medical cost reimbursement and pain and suffering.

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