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All moms and dads know that medical appointments for their children are a big part of their parental duties. Kids need routine checkups. Parents sometimes need to rush a child to an emergency room to treat an injury from an accident or a sudden illness.

Whatever the reason for seeing a pediatrician or visiting an ER, parents want to know their children will receive proper treatment and be on the road to recovery. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. Children sometimes receive the wrong medication. In some cases, they’re given a drug with the wrong dosage, and the outcome can be tragic.

Aware that medication errors are a serious problem, the medical community has examined ways to improve processes and prevent potentially fatal mistakes.

According to an article in MedPage Today, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) issued a policy statement recommending that emergency departments (EDs) create new standards for children who are treated. AAP also recommends EDs use a process in which medical professionals enter medication orders or other instructions from a doctor electronically rather than on paper. This process is known as “computerized physician order entry (CPOE).”

AAP recommends standardizing the measurement of concentrations in prescribed medication. Kilogram-only weight-based dosing should be used, according to the report.


Authors of the AAP report state that medication errors are a particular problem in emergency departments for a range of reasons. Some patients who are admitted may be taking several medications unknown to the healthcare workers in the ED. In such cases, a patient may receive a medication that should not be combined with one that the patient is using.

In addition, there is a lack of standard pediatric medication dosing. A child getting emergency treatment may receive a higher – and potentially dangerous – dose of medication.

Doctors sometimes give verbal orders rather than submit instructions in writing, which could lead to confusion.

The overall frantic nature of emergency departments combined with numerous interruptions can result in errors.

Previous research has found that many emergency departments do not have pharmacists. Authors recommend integrating pharmacists into the ED, which could reduce medication errors. A study of an urban emergency department found that medication safety improves when a pharmacist is on duty.

Education could help reduce the chance of medication errors. Medical, nursing and pharmacy schools should consider incorporating training in pediatric medication safety, according to the report.

As attorneys in Chicago who advocate for children, we commend the AAP for making recommendations to reduce medication errors. When your child is sick or injured, you trust the staff in the emergency department to administer the proper medication. You want your child to go home knowing that he or she will feel better soon.

If your child received the wrong medication or dosage, you may have grounds for a negligence claim. You need a strong legal advocate in your corner. Contact us at Deratany & Kosner. We offer free and confidential consultations.

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