Children with Chronic Conditions Experience More Medical Errors

Children with chronic conditions and their families already have a hard road ahead of them. To make matters worse, studies show that the rate of medical errors is higher when children with chronic conditions are involved. The statistics are shocking; the error rate per 100 children with chronic medical conditions discharged from the hospital is 5.3 percent, while the rate among children without chronic conditions is only 1.3 percent.

Medical Errors in Pediatrics

About 43 percent of children in the United States are living with chronic health conditions, but this is the first study looking at the rate of medical errors among these children. Chronic conditions included asthma, cancer and diabetes.

Among all pediatric patients, the medical error was 3 percent, making the 5.3 percent of medical errors among children with chronic conditions even more significant. Even when the study adjusted for hospital and patient characteristics and severity of disease and length of stay, the differences between medical errors in patients with chronic conditions and patients without them were staggering.

About 12 percent of the children studied had three or more chronic conditions, 9.8 percent of the children studied had two chronic conditions, and the majority, 22.3 percent, had one chronic condition. Even more alarming, the rate of medical errors rose with the number of chronic conditions the child suffered from. These children and their families already have enough to worry about, they should not have to worry that the hospital that is supposed to be caring for their child is making preventable errors.

Reasons for Medical Errors Rates

The reasons are ultimately unknown; however, creators of the study believe that it may be because the hospital stays of children with chronic conditions are often longer than children without the conditions. Researchers also thought that the errors may be due to the fact that the children have more complicated treatments.

Errors do not necessarily mean mistakes; some errors include infections after surgery, adverse medication reactions, bed sores and pressure ulcers. While these are not considered mistakes, they are often easily preventable.

This study is an important part to fixing the problem. The federal Agency for Healthcare Research and Qualify has also been funding projects to help hospitals improve patient care. Medical errors only make a bad situation worse. Children deserve to receive the best care and should not have to suffer because of surgical errors. The hospitals and physicians must be held accountable for their mistakes. Children and their families that were harmed in the hospital have options. An attorney specializing in medical malpractice can help children injured by medical errors recover their losses.