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Pediatric medication errors linked to electronic records

New Jersey parents may have many fears when they take their children to the hospital, but few are likely to consider their medical records as a major area of concern. However, issues with the software and usability of electronic health records (EHRs) can sometimes lead to severe issues that can compromise patient safety. According to researchers, these risks are particularly profound for pediatric patients. Medication errors can be dangerous, especially when children are involved. Dosages must often be adjusted to account for their smaller size and younger age.

This is one place that EHRs can run into problems. The requirements for medication safety guidelines when creating EHR software do not require that manufacturers build in a distinction between adult and child patients. This means that it could be relatively easy for an adult-size dose to be recorded in a child’s medical record, resulting in a potential overdose. One study examined ways in which EHRs can contribute to medication errors, including prescribing mistakes as well as problems with administering the drugs. According to researchers, staff at the hospitals involved found thousands of incidents related to EHR systems.

EHRs may also not fully display important information to all parties involved in giving medication to a child. While a prescribing physician may note that a child is only to receive a drug at a certain time, these notes may be shown only to the pharmacist rather than the nurse who comes to administer the drug. This could lead to unnecessary medication and potentially severe side effects.

When children go to the hospital, they should not have to suffer due to mistakes made by health care professionals. Parents of children who have had a worsened medical condition due to doctor errors can consult with a medical malpractice attorney about their options to pursue compensation.