New Study Suggests that Complexity Leads to More Medical Errors in Children
In 2003, a study found that 2-3 percent of children who are treated in hospitals are victims of medical errors. A new study found that no progress has been made. However, the new study in Pediatrics shed light on what causes the errors. The rate of medical errors steadily rose with the number of chronic conditions. Children with nine or more chronic conditions had a medical error rate of over 16%. For those without any chronic conditions, the error rate was 1.3%.
The most common type of error was in children with at least one chronic condition that had complications peculiar to their procedures. A prior study found that children with special medical needs or technology dependence had significantly higher rates of errors.
The authors said that their study may not have picked up all drug errors because they only examined problems for a limited set of medications. More comprehensive studies have found medication error rates between 1.5% to 6% depending upon the methods used.
Last year, The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation found that the methodology used in this study may grossly underestimate medical errors by ten-fold. Among the 795 patient records reviewed, voluntary reporting detected four events, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality(AHRQ) used it in the present study detected 35, and the Global Trigger Tool detected 354 events, ten times more than the AHRQ method. Therefore, the actually medical error rates may be much higher than reported in this study! The above video made last year outlines the problem and gives some frightening examples of what can occur.
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