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Archive for Wednesday, April 25, 2001

Error rate in children’s medication poses risks

April 25, 2001

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— Potentially harmful medication errors occur three times more often among hospitalized children than adults, a study finds.

Many mistakes including prescribing medication at incorrect dosages or drugs that could cause allergic reactions could be prevented by requiring physicians to enter orders into a computer and clinical pharmacists to be more involved in pediatric wards, researchers said.

"The high risk of medication errors highlights the importance of developing, testing and implementing effective error-prevention strategies in pediatrics," the study's authors wrote in today's Journal of the American Medical Assn.

In the six-week study at Children's Hospital Boston and Massachusetts General Hospital for Children, researchers found 616 medication errors out of 10,778 orders written an error rate of 5.7 percent.

Of those, 26 were considered adverse drug events, meaning they harmed the child. In 115 cases, the mistakes were caught before the medication was administered or the error did not cause a bad reaction; of those, physician reviewers said 18 were potentially fatal or life-threatening.

The remaining mistakes were errors that weren't considered potentially harmful, such as ordering antibiotics without specifying how the drug should be administered.

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