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Common Medication Errors in Children

In a recent study researchers have found , medication errors that occur in pediatric intensive care units are more common // than previously thought.

Researchers studied more than 11,800 children who were admitted into pediatric intensive care units to determine the prevalence of medication errors. They defined an error as any preventable event that may cause or lead to patient harm. Researchers say 579 medical errors were reported during the course of the study. Nearly 70 percent of the medical errors occurred during the administration stage of a child’s hospital visit. About 10 percent of the errors occurred during the prescribing stage, and the remaining 15 percent of errors occurred during the preparation and dispensing stages.

Researchers say the most common medication error occurred because incorrect doses were delivered to patients. Researchers says dosage errors frequently occur in children because it is difficult to match proper doses to the exact weight of a child. Nearly 30 percent of the medication errors occurred because the wrong drug was administered. Twenty percent of the errors were made because medication was given at the wrong time. Only about 1 percent of the errors occurred because a medication was given to the wrong patient. Researchers say about 6 percent of the errors that occurred had the potential to cause permanent harm to patients.

Researchers say medication errors in the pediatric intensive care unit are diverse in type and occur during all phases of the medication delivery process. The medications involved are those commonly used in pediatric critical care, including many with potentially severe effects when misused. Thus researchers feel that pediatric intensive care unit patient safety efforts that focus on medication delivery are needed.

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