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One in Every Eight Minutes Children Medication is Given Incorrectly

Update Date: Oct 20, 2014 10:15 AM EDT

According to a new study, children medication is frequently administered incorrectly. Researchers from Nationwide Children's Hospital calculated that in children younger than six-years-old, parents or caregivers accidentally make a medication error for one kid every eight minutes.

"This is more common than people may realize," said Huiyun Xiang, MD, MPH, PhD, director of the Center for Pediatric Trauma Research at Nationwide Children's Hospital, principal investigator at the hospital's Center for Injury Research and Policy. "The numbers we report still underestimate the true magnitude of these incidents since these are just cases reported to national poison centers."

In this study, the researchers examined information on 63,000 children under six-years-old that was reported to the National Poison Data System. They looked at the number of medication errors that were made outside of the hospital every year from 2002 to 2012.

Overall, one child is affected by these errors every eight minutes. The most commonly misused drugs were painkillers and fever-reducers, such as ibuprofen and acetaminophen. More than 80 percent of the errors involved liquid medications. Some of the mistakes included administering the medication twice, measuring the wrong dose or giving the wrong medication. Mistakes were most frequently made inside the home at 97 percent. These errors were also made at another residence and at school.

"We found that younger children are more apt to experience error than older children, with children under age one accounting for 25 percent of incidents," said Xiang, the senior author of the study, according to the press release.

Henry Spiller, director of the Central Ohio Poison Center and co-author of the study, added, "There are public health strategies being used to decrease the frequency and severity of medication errors among young children. Product packaging needs to be redesigned in a way that provides accurate dosing devices and instructions, and better labeling to increase visibility to parents."

The study, "Out-of-Hospital Medication Errors Among Young Children in the United States, 2002-2012," was published in the journal, Pediatrics.

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