Of the 1.5 million people estimated to be affected by medication errors each year, children have proven to be at much greater risk than adults. In fact, one recent study revealed an approximate 11 percent adverse drug event rate among pediatric inpatients, and of those, 22 percent were considered preventable.

There are many different types of medication errors that can occur with children, including cases in which physicians provide incorrect medications or provide the correct medication but in a wrong dose.

Overall, children are more prone to medication errors and the resulting harm because:

  • Most medications used in the care of children are formulated and packaged primarily for adults. Therefore, they often must be prepared in different volumes or concentrations before being administered to children.
  • Most health care facilities are designed to meet the needs of adults. Many of these institutions are lacking in trained pediatric staff, pediatric care protocols and safeguards, and up-to-date pediatric reference materials. This is especially true in relation to medications. Emergency departments are particularly risky places for children.
  • Children, especially young, small and sick children, are usually less able to tolerate a medication error due to still developing physiological functions. On top of this, many children simply lack the ability to communicate effectively to medical professionals in concern to any adverse effects a medication may be causing.
Despite the danger and worry they cause, there are ways of helping to prevent medication errors from happening to you or your children. These include bringing a list of all your medications with you to the doctor's office and making sure doses are the correct amount for you or your child's weight, liver and kidney functionality, and age.