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More medical errors among children with chronic health conditions

According to a new study released in the journal Pediatrics, children with chronic health conditions are more likely to be affected by medical errors than children without. According to the same study, approximately 3 percent of all hospitalized children are currently affected by such errors, which include misdiagnosis, medication errors and doctors' errors. Maryland parents might find the following article on doctor error in pediatrics interesting.

Researchers from the Nationwide Children's Hospital in Columbus found that 44 percent of the children hospitalized in 38 U.S. states in 2006 suffered from at least one chronic health condition. Such chronic health conditions can include everything from asthma and digestive disorders to diabetes and cancer. Using this data, researchers looked at medical errors among children without chronic health problems and those with chronic health problems.

Using hospital discharge records, researchers noticed that among children without chronic health problems, approximately 1.3 percent were affected by medical errors. Among the children with chronic conditions, the same research showed a rate of error in excess of 5 percent. Researchers were quick to note that error does not necessarily mean mistake. Mistake, according to the researches, is a term that can also refer to unexpected complications.

Regardless of the reason, the bottom line is that everyone needs to be aware of the greater risk for children with chronic health conditions. According to a report from the Institute of Medicine, medical errors cost $17 billion to $29 billion annually. More importantly, such errors kill nearly 98,000 people every year. While not every medical error is a mistake, when medical mistakes do occur, patients have a right to recover damages for their injuries.

Source: Chicago Tribune, "More hospital errors when kids have chronic ills," Amy Norton, Sept. 11, 2012

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