• Thousands of Children Face Medication Errors Each Year
  • December 10, 2014 | Author: Stephen J. Burg
  • Law Firm: Burg Simpson Eldredge Hersh & Jardine, P.C. - Englewood Office
  • As a new study uncovered, between 2002 and 2012, about every eight minutes a child in the U.S. encountered a medication error. The researchers from Nationwide Children's Hospital in Ohio, The Ohio State University College of Medicine and the Central Ohio Poison Center used call data from the poison center's system to record out-of-hospital medication mistakes for children under the age of six.

    Study findings
    Between 2002 and 2012, there were 696,937 children who experienced a medication error, according to the study. The number of total errors rose each year during the study period, but cough and cold medication mistakes fell overtime. Analgesics were most commonly involved in an error at 25.2 percent and cough and cold medications came in second at 24.6 percent.

    The decrease in errors with cough and cold medications likely resulted from a long-term campaign to reduce the use of these products in young kids, study co-author and Director of the Central Ohio Poison Center Henry Spiller told Reuters Health.

    The most common health event that accounted for the mistake was ingestion at 96.2 percent, and 27.0 percent of errors were because children were given medication twice or took it again by accident.

    The number of mistakes also lessened as children grew older, and children under the age of one experienced 25.2 percent of the issues.

    Dangers of medication errors
    A variety of events can all be considered medication errors, such as taking the incorrect dosage of the drug, taking two medications with overlapping active ingredients, not taking a medication for the recommended time or being inadvertently given the medication twice, according to the Mayo Clinic.

    Mistakes occur for many reasons as well. Sometimes there's poor communication between health care providers and parents, and other times parents do not read or misread the medications' labels.

    Most medication mistakes do not require medical intervention. However, many health issues can arise and during the course of the study period, 25 children died because of medication mistakes.

    Reduce the risk of mistakes
    The Mayo Clinic stresses that communication is the key to preventing medication errors in patients of any age. Parents and caregivers should carefully read the labels on all medications they plan to give to their children, take heed of all warnings and give only the recommended dose and more.

    "Parents and caregivers can do their parts by using smartphone apps to schedule and track medication doses and by using measuring cups provided with liquid medications to give accurate doses," wrote Huiyan Xiang, study co-author and director of the Center for Pediatric Trauma Research at Nationwide Children's Hospital.

    They can also speak with a physician or pharmacist before giving their child over-the-counter medications, according to Mayo Clinic. Some questions they can ask are how long should the medication be administered, what's the best measuring tool for providing the proper amount, and should any foods or other medications be avoided while the child is on the drug.