Reducing prescription errors for kids

Florida residents may be interested in a recent article detailing the efforts of doctors to lower medication errors related to children. According to the article, between 5 and 27 percent of all children’s medication orders result in some error of prescription or dosage, and these mistakes lead to about 7,000 deaths each year.

Researchers admit that correcting these mistakes is a complex task. They said that achieving maximum benefit of the changes is a collaborative process that must involve not only healthcare professionals, but also parents and caregivers that ultimately dispense the medication.

One of their most effective interventions that reduced errors by between 27 to 82 percent was in how doctors filled out orders. Typing out prescriptions instead of handwritten notes was one important intervention. The typed prescriptions tend to be more standardized, legible and clear. Moreover, they also encouraged doctors to enter orders with computers installed with important medical software like diagnostic criteria and clinical guidelines.

Additionally, doctors were encouraged to provide dosage instructions in milliliters as opposed to tablespoons or teaspoons for liquids. Researchers noted that parents who used spoons as measuring liquid medicine were twice as likely to give an incorrect dose. Standardizing millimeters as the primary measuring unit for liquid medications would also help curb dosage errors, according to researchers.

When an incorrect medication or dosage is prescribed, it could lead to serious complications or death. In the event a mistake causes harm to the child, the parent can pursue a medical malpractice lawsuit against the doctor, pharmacy or other party responsible for the error.

SourceBusiness Insider, “Doctors find strategies to reduce medication errors among kids“, Kathryn Doyle, July 14, 2014