Drug Mix-ups Harm 1 in 15 Hospitalized Children

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Medicine mix-ups, accidental overdoses and bad drug reactions that harm hospitalized children have gotten more publicity since the case involving Dennis Quaid’s newborn twins in 2007.  Quaid’s twins were given 1,000 times the common dosage of a blood thinner at the hospital.  This case is not isolated.  According to a recent scientific test using a new detection method, one out of 15 hospitalized children are victims of drug errors.

The findings of this test reflect a number that is far higher than earlier estimates, which has raised concern among parents, caregivers and medical experts.

Dr. Charles Homer of the National Initiative for Children’s Healthcare Quality was quoted in a MSNBC.com article as saying, “these data and the Dennis Quaid episode are telling us that… these kinds of errors and experiencing harm as a result of your health care is much more common than people believe. It’s very concerning.”  Homer’s group helped create the detection tool used in the medical study.

Based on the study, researchers discovered a rate of 11 drug-related harmful events for every 100 children in the hospital.  This rate is significantly higher than an earlier estimate of two per 100 hospitalized children.  It was found that some children were the victims of more than one drug mistake.

When this rate is compared to government data of the number of hospitalized children, it means that approximately 540,000 hospitalized children are victims of drug errors each year.

The scientific test used in this study implemented a list of 15 “triggers.”  Researchers used these triggers to look for data that could suggest possible drug-related errors.  The list of triggers includes use of antidotes for drug overdoses, suspicious side effects and certain lab tests.  The traditional methods that were previously used to detect drug mistakes included only a generic chart review and voluntary error reporting.

During the study, researchers reviewed medical charts for 960 hospitalized children being treated at twelve different hospitals.  Patient safety advocates feel that since only a random sample of charts were analyzed, the problem could be even bigger than what researchers found.

Since the results of this study have been released, some hospitals have started to use similar trigger methods to detect drug errors.  However, many experts believe that more needs to be done to prevent injury to hospitalized children from medicine mix-ups.

If your child has been the victim of an accidental overdose or other drug error at the hospital, contact the Kentucky medical malpractice attorneys at Gray and White Law at 1-502-210-8942 or 1-888-450-4456 for legal advice.  We are experienced in handling drug error cases in Kentucky.