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Pediatric medical errors often linked to electronic systems

When parents in Oklahoma take their children to the doctor's office or the hospital for treatment, they may be very concerned about the potential for inaccurate or mistaken diagnoses and treatments. When medical mistakes and safety errors affect children, the results can be devastating and long-lasting. According to one study, over half of the safety errors that took place in pediatric treatment were related to the use of electronic health records (EHRs) and medication. The study examined 9,000 patient safety reports gathered at three hospitals over a five-year period.

In some cases, EHRs would not provide alerts if medication was prescribed to an allergic patient. In other cases, the EHR display was confusing, making it difficult to enter information correctly. The most common type of medication error was a dosage error, in which patients received the wrong amount of medicine. These became safety issues when patients were overdosed, leading to side effects or requiring monitoring. Researchers found that around 36 percent of these reports involved difficulties using the EHR due to its design.

Indeed, 84.5 percent of medication errors involved incorrect dosages while 3.5 percent involved incorrect timing of medication. In one case, a doctor ordered a dose five times higher than recommended without the EHR sending up an alert despite the fact that the prescription exceeded the maximum dose. The nature of EHRs may lead health professionals to rely on receiving a warning to detect incorrect dosages, and researchers urged software firms to develop more comprehensive feedback systems.

Overdoses and other medical errors can lead to serious consequences, especially when children are involved. Parents may face escalating medical bills and their children's seriously worsened health conditions. A medical malpractice attorney can work with people who were injured by doctor errors about the potential to move forward and seek compensation for their losses.

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