An interesting NY Times article indicates that medical errors in medication dispensing and dosage continue to put our youngest and most defenseless citizens at risk. The article tells the story of 6-year-old Chance Pendleton, who came out of surgery in hysterics. The attending nursed is described as “peeved” by the boy’s behavior. Twenty minutes later, the boy’s mother waves down another nurse who happens to be walking by. The nurse checks on the boy and notices that his IV was inserted incorrectly and he was not receiving any medication; she repairs the line and the child is better within seconds.
While this incident, apparently, caused no long term harm to young Chance Pendleton, most medical mistakes have much more serious consequences for children. Dr. Peter B. Angood, chief patient safety officer of the Joint Commission, the independent hospital accreditation agency is quoted as stating that “there’s been slow progress in the decline of these errors;” he calls on hospitals to reduce their number. His concerns do not even include the number of diagnostic and procedural errors or those that directly cause infection and/or injury. Since a child’s vital organs and immune system are still in development, they are at greater risk than adults. The article notes that these errors can be caused not only by hospital or physician negligence, but in out-patient settings, as well, and by dosage errors committed by your local pharmacist. Dr. Angood opines that “there needs to be more medications specifically manufactured for the pediatric population, more standardized dosing regimens and very accurate and clear labeling and packaging of medications.” The reader may recall that a labeling mix-up caused an overdose of medication that nearly killed the newborn twins of actor Dennis Quaid and his wife.
The article encourages parents to be aggressive and speak up when they think something is not right. I agree. After all, no one knows the child better than his or her parents. The article offers tips to lower the chances of harm. I encourage you to review them, study them, copy them, remember them. You never know when or if you will find yourself in the same or similar position as that of young Chance’s mom.
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