April 12, 2008

More Care Should Be Taken When Medicating Children

When Dennis Quaid's newborn twins received too large of a dose of blood thinner last November, the public eye was drawn to an important issue. One out of 15 hospitalized children is harmed due to drug mix-ups and overdoses of the proper medication. This number is staggering, and a safety alert was issued Friday to combat it.

The hospital group responsible for the alert strongly believes that much more needs to be done to prevent these small but deadly errors. The alert strongly suggests that hospitals weigh children in kilograms when they are admitted, in order to calculate proper doses the standard way. Hospitals which weigh children in pounds increase the risk of a doubled-dose, according to Dr. Matthew Scanlon of the Children's Hospital of Wisconsin in Milwaukee.

Dr. Scanlon helped write the warning from the Joint Commission. He asserted, "This is the strongest statement on record to date that children have unique safety needs."

This alert is a much-needed reminder that pediatric errors in hospitals are avoidable, but somehow still common. Some small changes would change the error ratio greatly.

The safety alert also states that Adult medication should be kept away from pediatric care units and medicine cabinets and machines which contain children's medications. They also warn that products which have been repackaged from adult formulations for use with children should be clearly marked.

According to Dr. Peter Angood, the vice president of Joint Commission thinks the Quaid incident is an excellent example of the small things being overlooked to a dangerous point. These errors can be avoided, and hopefully the alert will be a step in the right direction.