Monitoring medications reduces medical errors in children

As every Joplin parent knows, you’re going to worry whenever you take your child to a hospital. A parent worries about the illness or injury their child has, how painful the condition might be, how long recovery might take, and a host of other concerns. Parents might worry even more if they knew that a recent study at a prominent children’s hospital showed that medication errors affect nearly 6 patients out of 1,000.

The good news is that the study was of a new record-keeping system at the hospital, designed to help reduce the potentially harmful mistakes. After the system was implemented, hospital staff reduced the medication error rate by more than half, according to a study presented yesterday at the Pediatric Academies Societies annual meeting.

The study was conducted at Boston Children’s Hospital, led by an instructor of pediatrics at Harvard Medical School. The focus was on reducing medication errors caused by lapses in communication and lack of information when patients are admitted to the hospital.

A team of doctors, nurses, pharmacists and information technology specialists tested, implemented and trained clinicians in use of an electronic tool enabling the review of a child’s entire medication history up to the point at which they’re admitted.

After the tool was put in place and clinicians began using it, along with a voluntary error reporting mechanism, researchers began examining the number of medication errors before the tool was implemented and after implementation.

What they found was that the error rate dropped from 5.9 errors per 1,000 admissions to 2.5 mistakes per 1,000 admissions. The hospital noted that most errors didn’t harm patients, but that 1 percent of those who experienced medication mistakes required intervention or additional monitoring.

For those harmed by medication errors, a conversation with an experienced medical malpractice attorney is the first step in putting legal options in motion.

Source: News Medical, "Electronic system in hospital helps reduce medication errors in children," May 6, 2014



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