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Medical mistakes

Medical Mix Ups Are All Too Common for Children

Friday, April 25, 2008 by: Jo Hartley
Tags: medical mistakes, health news, Natural News

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(NewsTarget) Medicine mix-ups, accidental overdoses and bad drug reactions hurt approximately one out of 15 hospitalized children. This is information according to the first scientific test of a new detection method.

That number is much higher than was earlier estimated and this information bolsters concerns that are already heightened by well publicized cases such as the accidental drug overdose of actor Dennis Quaid's newborn babies last year.

Researchers discovered a rate of 11 drug-related events for every 100 hospitalized children. Traditional detection methods resulted in 2 per 100 hospitalized children. This rate reflects the fact that some children experienced more than one drug mistake.

The new estimate translates to 7.3 percent of hospitalized children, which is about 540,000 children every year. This information and cases in the news are telling us that errors are much more common than people believe.

The new monitoring method that was developed for this study is a list of 15 "triggers" for young patients' charts. These triggers would suggest possible drug-related harm. The list includes the use of specific common antidotes for drug overdoses, suspicious side effects and certain lab tests.

The researchers' findings expose the need for aggressive prevention strategies to decrease the risk for medication-related harm to children. Relying on hospital personnel to report problems results in less than 4 percent of the problems found in the new study.

Patient safety experts said the problem is probably bigger than the study suggests because the review involved only selected charts. Additionally, the study didn't include community hospitals, where most American children are hospitalized.

Among triggers on the list was use of the drug naloxone. This is an antidote for an overdose of morphine and related painkillers. Symptoms include breathing difficulty and very low blood pressure. Over half of the problems the study exposed were related to these powerful painkillers.

Approximately 22 percent of the problems were considered preventable, but most were relatively mild. None were fatal or caused permanent damage, but some "did have the potential to cause some significant harm."

Another trigger was the use of vitamin K as an antidote for an overdose of the blood thinner Coumadin. Also, the use of a blood test to detect insulin overdoses and a lab test that identifies blood-clotting problems that can come from an overdose of the blood thinner heparin are two other triggers.

The study is being released in the April issue of the journal Pediatrics. It utilized a review of randomly selected medical charts for 960 children treated at 12 different freestanding children's hospitals nationwide in 2002. The aforementioned triggers reported in the charts prompted an in-depth review of the patients' care.

Some hospitals have started using trigger methods comparable to those in the study. There is much room for improvement, however. The published study will hopefully bring this issue the awareness necessary for improvement.

About the author

Jo Hartley
Wife, Mother of 8, and Grandmother of 2
Jo is a 41 year old home educator who has always gravitated toward a natural approach to life. She enjoys learning as much as possible about just about anything!
http://loftymatters.com - Current Events
http://winemaiden.com - Simply Abundant Living

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