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Medical errors more likely for children with chronic conditions

Medical errors pose serious dangers for patients and their families. Medical errors happen to all types of patients but new research shows that children with chronic illnesses are more likely to be victims of medical errors while being hospitalized.

Children with chronic illnesses who are hospitalized are more likely to be subject to medical errors than children without chronic illnesses, according to a study done by the Research Institute at Nationwide Children's Hospital in Ohio.

An estimated 43 percent of children in the U.S. suffer from at least one chronic medical condition. The researchers studied the correlation between chronic conditions and medical errors among children in hospitals throughout the U.S.

Roughly 22 percent of the pediatric patients in the study had one chronic condition, almost 10 percent had two chronic illnesses and 12 percent had three or more chronic conditions. Of the pediatric patients, 44 percent of them in the study had asthma, diabetes or cancer.

The study found that the average medical error rate among pediatric patients was 3 percent. Children with chronic illnesses were more at risk than those without chronic conditions, according to the study. The medical error rate was 5.3 percent for children with chronic medical conditions compared to 1.3 percent for children without a chronic illness. The study also found that the risk of medical errors increased for pediatric patients with more than one chronic condition.

Researchers stated that children with chronic illnesses may be more at risk for medical errors because they tend to have longer hospital stays, making medical errors more likely to occur. The pediatric patient's chronic illness may also lead to more complicated or risky medical procedures, which can also increase the risk of errors.

The researchers said that hospitals need to be aware of the risks associated with treating pediatric patients with chronic illnesses but they did not address the ways hospitals can decrease medical errors among pediatric patients with chronic medical conditions.

Source: Clinical Advisor, "Medical errors more common among children with chronic conditions," Ann W. Latner, Oct. 16, 2012

Our firm handles medical malpractice issues, including medical errors caused by negligence. For more information, please visit our Massachusetts hospital negligence page.

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