PSA Advisories

Medication Errors Affecting Pediatric Patients: Unique Challenges for This Special Population

From January 2013 through October 2014, 4,065 medication errors involving pediatric patients and taking place in a general acute care hospital not specializing in pediatrics were reported to the Pennsylvania Patient Safety Authority. Almost 18% (n = 715, 17.8%) of the reported events reached the patient and either required additional monitoring to preclude harm or caused actual harm. These reports were analyzed to determine if the events involved unique challenges when providing medications to the pediatric patient as well as to classify the events by node, related processes, possible causes, and contributing factors. When looking at the age ranges of patients involved in events, 28.1% (n = 201) of the reports involved neonates and 60.2% (n = 431) involved patients younger than five years of age. While there were events that included unique challenges to providing medications to the pediatric patients, most events mentioned challenges similar to those encountered in providing medications to adults. Important risk reduction strategies include dispensing medications for individual patients in a patient-specific, ready-to-administer form whenever possible and ensuring ready access to appropriate and current clinical information about patients. (Pa Patient Saf Advis 2015 Sep;12[3]:96-102.)

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