A few months ago, a study was published in an issue of the journal Pediatrics that showed that nearly 1 out of 15 hospitalized children are harmed by medicine mix ups, accidental overdoses and bad drug reactions. This alarming number is higher than what was previously estimated and raises justifiable concerns regarding the care a child receives at the hospital. Researchers believe that their findings show the need for aggressive strategies to decrease the risk of medicine related harm to children.
Publicized medical malpractice cases, such as the one involving Dennis Quaid’s newborn twins, who were the victims of an accidental drug overdose, have raised the awareness of hospital errors. Medical mistakes can result in serious harm to a patient and happen more often than people realize.
Researchers discovered a rate of 11 drug-related harmful events for every 100 hospitalized children. The original estimate was 2 events per 100 children. This rate shows that some children were the victims of more than one drug treatment mistake. Based on this figure and related government data, 540,000 hospitalized children are affected by these errors.
Less than 4 percent of the cases found by the study were reported by hospital staff. The study used the first scientific test of a new detection method, which includes a list of 15 “triggers” on patients’ charts that suggest drug-related harm. The triggers include specific antidotes for drug overdoses, suspicious side effects and particular lab tests. The traditional methods used to identify drug errors only include generic chart reviews and voluntary error reporting.
The study reviewed a random selection of medical charts for 960 children treated at 12 different children’s hospitals across the country in 2002. The triggers used in the research encouraged an in-depth review of the patients’ care. General community hospitals were not included in the study, even though these medical facilities are where most children requiring hospitalization are treated. Based on the number of patients studied and the hospitals chosen, experts believe the problem may be even bigger than what was concluded.
Some hospitals have started to use trigger methods similar to what was used in the study. However, there is still a long way to go to prevent injuries caused by medicine mix ups, accidental overdoses and other medical errors.
If you or a loved one has been the victim of medical malpractice, contact the experienced Central Florida medical malpractice attorneys at Lilly, O’Toole & Brown, LLP for legal advice.