Study: Children with Chronic Conditions Experience More Medical Errors

Researchers have determined hospitalized children with chronic medical conditions are more likely to be affected by medical errors than hospitalized children without a preexisting chronic condition, The Clinical Advisor reports. According to background data included in the new study conducted by Namrata Ahuja, MD, and colleagues, up to 43 percent of U.S. children suffer from at least one chronic medical condition. However, national studies have yet to be conducted to determine the frequency of medical error in these children.

Ahuja and associates analyzed the connection between medical errors and chronic conditions in pediatric patients selected from the 38 states included in the 2006 Kids’ Inpatient Database (KID), the only data set that studies children’s hospitalization.

The study, published in Pediatrics, found the medical error rate per 100 hospital discharges was 5.3 percent among children with a chronic medical condition. Conversely, the medical error rate for children lacking a preexisting chronic condition was only 1.3 percent. Overall, the study found 44 percent of the children suffered from at least one chronic medical condition such as asthma, diabetes, or cancer.  

The study hypothesized children with chronic health issues are more susceptible to iatrogenic medical errors because their preexisting conditions warrant longer hospital stays and possibly more complex treatments. Researchers noted that, in this instance, errors aren’t necessarily mistakes, as they may include allergic medication reactions and post-surgery infections.

Although many medical errors do not warrant legal action, there are instances in which negligence on part of a doctor or hospital can lead to a serious injury. When this occurs, the injured patient may be able to file a lawsuit against the negligent healthcare provider to recover compensation for medical bills, pain and suffering and other damages. At Morgan and Morgan, our attorneys handle medical malpractice claims stemming from medical errors, as well as birth injuries and surgical errors, and work diligently to protect the rights of injured patients.