Pharmacy Errors Harm Children More Than Adults, So Says the Joint Commission

In preparing a recent case for an 8 year child and her parents, I came across an interesting report from The Joint Commission. (The Joint Commission is a private organization that works closely with the Federal Government to evaluate the quality of care being provided by hospitals.) The report indicated that experts within the medical community agree that children are at a higher risk of harm from prescription errors than adults.

The Joint Commission reported that pediatric medication errors occurred more often due to weight-based dosage calculations that are required when prescribing and administering medication to children, and the more frequent use of decimal points in prescriptions for children. The report went on to indicate that medication errors injure children more severely than if the same errors were made to an adult patient.

The Joint Commission gave four reasons why children are more prone to medication errors that result in serious injury:
1. Medications used for children are primarily designed and packaged for adults. Before medications are administered to children, the concentrations must be appropriately diluted according to the child’s weight. These solutions require a number of complicated calculations that significantly increase the possibility of error;
2. Many health care facilities are primarily designed to care for adults and lack personnel adequately trained in pediatric care. The study found that emergency rooms are particularly high-risk environments for children;
3. Young children are unable to physically tolerate medication errors due to under developed immune systems; and

4. Young children cannot communicate the side effects they suffer due to medication errors.


If you have a question for the prescription error attorneys, please contact Lebowitz & Mzhen, LLC for a free consultation with Jack D. Lebowitz or Vadim A. Mzhen.

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