Parents need to guard against medication errors when treating their children at home with prescription medications. According to an article in Pediatrics, about 70,000 medication errors occur annually in children under 6 years of age, with more than 17,000 occurring in children under 1 year of age. Although most drug administration errors do not result in serious medical injuries, there are approximately 400 serious injuries and an average of 2-3 deaths each year. The most common error was inadvertently giving the medication twice.
Medication Errors caused by incorrect data entry into intravenous medication infusion devices are the subject of more adverse event reports to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration than any other medical technology. The Association for the Advancement of Medical Instrumentation did a study for the years 2005 through 2009 and found that more than 56,000 adverse events and 700 deaths were associated with infusion devices
Congress recently held a two-day hearing on the meningitis outbreak that caused 32 deaths and more than 430 illnesses across the country. In New Jersey, the state has identified at least 18 cases of the illness.
To improve patient safety, doctors, nurses and all healthcare personnel must have a high index of suspicion for errors, reports a recent Medication Safety Alert in the Institute for Safe Medication Practices. Each person on the team must anticipate and investigate the possibility when any member of the healthcare team, regardless of experience or rank, expresses concern about possible errors or when patients are not responding to treatment as expected. Often the discovery of an error is begun when someone asks a question just because something doesn't seem right. Unfortunately, there is a hierarchy of rank amongst healthcare professionals that creates a culture where even the slightest questions about possible problems with patient care are not treated seriously and dismissed without any follow up. Outright intimidation and disrespect of medical subordinates are rare, but over-deference to "more experienced" providers is common. Subordinate staff who do speak up are easily convinced that their concerns are unfounded. As a result, opportunities to catch errors before harm occurs are lost.