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Medication Mistakes Common Among Child Patients

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Danielle Dougall3 years ago

According to Reuters, hospitals commonly make medication dosage mistakes with young children. A 10-year-long study conducted from 2002-2012 shows that every 8 minutes, a child in the U.S. experienced a medical mistake.

About the Medical Mistakes

During the study, the average number of reported medical mistakes rose, except for those cases involving cold medicine and cough syrup, which declined in number. The reduction in cold and cough medicine mistakes is a result of a multi-pronged campaign effort to reduce dosage errors with these medicines among children.

Henry Spiller, director of the Central Ohio Poison Center at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, says: “We can see a drop associated with these efforts.”

Most of the studies conducted involve medication mistakes made in hospitals; one-quarter of the mistakes studied involved children being given the same medication twice in a short period of time. The study obtained medical data from children who were under the age of six years old between 2002 and 2013. It collected information from the National Poison Database System, which collected information from calls received on its 55 poison control lines.

Pediatric Medical Error Statistics

  • Approximately 63,358 children experienced medication errors during each year of the study. 
  • The most commonly-reported mistake involved aspirin over dosages, followed by cold and allergy medications.
  • Medication errors became less frequent as children got older.
  • 25% of all mistakes occurred with infant children under the age of 1 year.
  • 25 children died in the eleven-year-long study as a result of medication mistakes.
Preventative Measures/Safeguards

Dr. Huiyun Xiang, the study’s primary author, said: “Parents and caregivers can do their parts by using smart phone apps to schedule and track medication doses and by using measuring cups provided with liquid medications to give accurate doses.”

When medication mistakes do occur, parents and guardians should call their state’s poison center (1-800-222-1222).


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