Drug errors hurting children?

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch today carried an alarming AP article about a recent study that suggested 1 out of 15 hospitalized children are harmed by “[m]edicine mix-ups, accidental overdoses, and bad drug reactions…” The article also reported:

Patient safety experts said the problem was likely to be even bigger than the study suggested because it involved only a review of selected charts. Also, the study didn’t include general community hospitals, where most U.S. children requiring hospitalization are treated.

The article includes an estimate based on these findings and hospital utilization rates that around 540,000 kids each year are adversely affected in this way each year, and that previous methods of trying to collect this sort of data had found only 4% of these problems.

You can read the article for yourself here.

Is the study valid? I suggest reading the article and judging the information for yourself. I definitely think that the new system of detecting such errors is an improvement, while — at least as described in the paper — it seems to me that there is potential for additional errors to be introduced. (Of course, when is there not such a potential?)

As always, one has to consider the other side of the equation — how many of the “harmed children” would have been in worse shape with no treatment at all? But still, even if such a number is high, the lesson from this study seems clear, at least to me: be involved with your child’s healthcare and take nothing for granted. Doctors and medical professionals are experts to be sure, but they are also horribly afflicted with a fatal case of humanity.

Anyone who thinks that having the blessing of a robust and technologically advanced medical system in our nation removes the need to consider God in our choices to address illness and disease and ignore the instruction of James 5:14 and the hope of Exodus 15:26 need to examine where they are placing their faith. Personally, I am very thankful for our doctors, nurses, dentists, etc., yet I try to keep in mind that there is only one Perfect Physician.

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