In Home Medication Errors Common Among Young Children

MedicalResearch.com: Interview with:

Dr.  Huiyun Xiang, MD, MPH, PhD Center for Injury Research and Policy The Ohio State University College of Medicine, Columbus, OhioDr.  Huiyun Xiang, MD, MPH, PhD
Center for Injury Research and Policy
The Ohio State University College of Medicine, Columbus, Ohio

Jeb Phillips, BA Project Specialist, Injury Research and Policy Staff Nationwide Children’s Hospital,  Columbus, OhioJeb Phillips, BA
Project Specialist, Injury Research and Policy Staff
Nationwide Children’s Hospital,  Columbus, Ohio

 

Medical Research: What are the main findings of the study?

Response: From 2002-2012, a child younger than 6 years old experienced an out-of-hospital medication error every 8 minutes. That’s a total of 696,937 during the study period, or 63,358 per year. Almost all happened at the child’s residence. The rate and number of errors decreased with increasing age.

Analgesics were the mostly commonly involved medications (25.2%), followed by cough and cold medications (24.6%). More than 1 in 4 (27%) of the errors happened when a child inadvertently took or was given medication twice. Errors also happened when children took or were given an incorrect dose, when medication measurements were confused, and when the wrong medication was taken or given.


Medical Research:  What was most surprising about the results?

Response: I am not sure about surprising, but the sheer number and frequency of errors was very interesting.

Medical Research:  What should clinicians and patients take away from your report?

Response: First, it’s possible to reduce these errors. The combined efforts of manufacturers, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and groups like the American Academy of Pediatrics to recommend against the routine use of cough and cold medication in young children greatly reduced those errors. The same action may be warranted with other medication categories, including analgesics.

Parents and caregivers can work to reduce the errors, too. Using measuring cups provided with liquid medicine instead of kitchen spoons and sticking to a consistent medication schedule are a good start.

Medical Research:  What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Response: Further research should obtain parent and caregiver feedback about the ways packaging, labeling and dosing devices contribute to errors and address health care provider communication to low-literacy and non-English speaking caregivers.

Citation:

Out-of-Hospital Medication Errors Among Young Children in the United States, 2002–2012
Maxwell D. Smith, Henry A. Spiller, Marcel J. Casavant, Thiphalak Chounthirath,
Todd J. Brophy, and Huiyun Xiang

Pediatrics peds.2014-0309; published ahead of print October 20, 2014, doi:10.1542/peds.2014-0309