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Study suggests medical errors common among pediatric patients

When Ohio parents admit their children to a hospital, their vigilance could catch medical errors. A team of researchers interested in how often parents detected mistakes in their children's medical care conducted a safety survey at two pediatric units at a Boston hospital.

The researchers examined data on over 380 children in 2013 and 2014 and collected responses from their parents concerning safety-related incidents. Two physicians then placed their responses into three categories: medical errors, other quality issues and problems unrelated to safety. Twenty-three of the cases fell into the medical mistakes category, and nine other cases involved other issues that impacted the quality of care.

Among the medical errors, researchers described 30 percent of them caused the young patient harm and were preventable. Parents caught problems like a foreign bodies left behind by medical procedures and delays in the diagnosis of urinary retention. Getting pain medication when it was needed also emerged as a complaint.

The authors of the study acknowledged that its small size limited their ability to draw final conclusions. Their sample only represented English-speaking parents from affluent backgrounds. They opined that other populations with a reduced ability to communicate could be more vulnerable to medical errors.

Medical professional negligence can take a number of forms, including a failure to make a proper diagnosis, an anesthesia error or a surgical mistake. In many cases these actions or inactions can result in a worsened medical condition that requires extensive medical care and treatment. Those who have been harmed in such a manner may wish to discuss with an attorney whether the filing of a medical malpractice lawsuit against the negligent facility or practitioner would be an advisable course of action.

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