When young patients must receive medical care, it rarely even crosses their worried parents’ minds that their child could receive improper medication or an improper dosage for their weight or age.
Medication errors can also include drugs which interact negatively with another prescribed medication. A recent study published in the journal Pediatrics, reported that a medication error is made every eight minutes among American pediatric patients. This means as many as 65,000 children are mis-dosed every year in the United States.
Medication errors among children occur for the same reasons as they do for adults, including:
- Errors made in the ordering process of the drug;
- Caregiver miscommunication;
- Mistakes made when inputting the information electronically;
- Misreading labels due to packaging similarities;
- Misreading labels due to medication name similarities;
- Improperly dispensing prescription drugs;
- Lack of pediatric education among caregivers, and
- Dosing errors due to the small size and weight of pediatric patients.
Errors in dosage for pediatric patients can be incorrect because most pediatric medication doses are weight-based.
In what seems to be an issue, which needs to be changed, errors in dosage for pediatric patients can be incorrect because most pediatric medication doses are weight-based, yet the recommended dosages are frequently given in kilograms. A 2009 study revealed more than one in four pediatric medication errors involved confusion between pounds and kilograms. Hospitals may implement specific interventions in an attempt to reduce the number of pediatric medication errors. Checking the barcode medication administration system against the computerized prescribing system is just one intervention that can be implemented at the organizational level.
According to the journal Cancer, there is a high error rate in prescribing medications for pediatric patients with leukemia, particularly those undergoing outpatient treatment.
Many pediatric patients diagnosed with specific types of leukemia are able to receive at least some of their treatments and medications at home as outpatients, allowing them to live a more normal life. A study among these young patients found that medication errors were due to either incorrect dosages or failure to administer a prescribed medication. Overall, as many as 10 percent of the chemotherapy drugs administered to pediatric patients had medication errors, either in terms of the prescription or the administration. No dispensing errors from the pharmacy were found.
Ensuring That Your Child is not the Victim of Medication Errors
There are steps parents can take to ensure that their child remains safe from medication errors. It is normal to feel out of place when questioning medications and dosages for their children, yet this is exactly what parents must do by:
- Taking an active role in your child’s healthcare by staying involved in each decision made.
- Keeping careful records of all medications, dietary supplements, and over-the-counter medications your child is taking.
- Keeping your child’s health care providers up-to-date regarding any allergies or adverse reactions to medications your child has.
- Making sure you can read the prescription your doctor hands you. While it is well-known that doctors have bad handwriting, if it is so illegible you cannot begin to read it, the pharmacist may not be able to either.
- Ensuring that you have a thorough understanding of all relevant information regarding your child’s medications.
- Speaking up if you have questions or concerns.
Contact Our Experienced Medical Malpractice Attorneys
No child should ever be the victim of improper medication; if your child has suffered such a traumatic event, it could be beneficial to contact an experienced medical malpractice attorney at McLaughlin & Lauricella today. Our team of lawyers consists of some of the best medical malpractice attorneys in Pennsylvania and New Jersey, and we will fight aggressively for you throughout the legal process.
The medical malpractice attorneys at McLaughlin & Lauricella, P.C., have more than 68 years of experience represent patients and their families across Philadelphia, Berks, Bucks, Dauphin, Delaware, Lackawanna, Lehigh, Luzerne, Montgomery, and Northampton counties. We area also proud to serve injured patients throughout the State of New Jersey. Contact us today at 215-568-1510 or fill out our confidential medical case inquiry form to learn more about your legal options.