Chronically Ill Children More Likely Victims of Medical Errors

On behalf of Brown & Crouppen, P.C. posted in Medical Malpractice on Thursday, September 20, 2012

A study published in the journal, Pediatrics, revealed that a fragmented U.S. health care system contributes to medical errors in hospitalized children who are suffering from chronic health conditions. Researchers examined a federal government database and discovered that 44 percent of children hospitalized in 38 states were suffering from at least one chronic health condition, such as cancer, diabetes, asthma and digestive disorders.

The overall rate of medical errors was 5.3 percent. The children suffering from one chronic condition had medical error rates of approximately 3 percent, whereas children suffering from two chronic conditions had error rates of almost 7 percent. In comparison, children without a chronic condition had medical errors of just 1.3 percent.

A senior researcher pointed out that these results are not unexpected. Children suffering from chronic conditions often have longer hospital stays, and more complex conditions. He also cautioned that these errors may not all be mistakes. The research included certain codes as medical errors, such as procedural complications, post-surgical infections, bedsores and adverse reactions to medications. The results imply that people need to be aware of the greater risks for children with chronic health problems.

The problem is financial as well as personal. A 1999 report by the Institute of Medicine discovered that medical errors were costing the United States between $17 billion and $29 billion a year and killing almost 98,000 people. Since that study, the federal Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality has been funding projects to increase the safety of hospitalized patients.

Source: Reuters, “More hospital errors when kids have chronic ills,” Amy Norton, Sep. 11, 2012

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