Medication errors in pediatrics--the octopus evading defeat

J Surg Oncol. 2004 Dec 1;88(3):182-8. doi: 10.1002/jso.20126.


Medication errors have come to the forefront in healthcare and oversight organizations as well as to the public over the past several years. There has been an increasing focus on this area of patient care requiring more intensive evaluation and intervention to prevent these errors. Although it is difficult to ascertain the true occurrence of medication errors, they may occur as frequently as once in every 20 orders. Children are at higher risk for medication errors and adverse drug events for numerous reasons. Not only is there great variability in weight and body surface area in this population, there is also significant differences in the pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics of many medications when compared to adults. In addition, our knowledge of pharmacogenetics and phenotypic ontogeny must be applied. Sources of medication errors are identified, and specific examples and solutions to improve medication use in children are provided. It is critical to have 1) personnel trained in pediatrics to prescribe, prepare, dispense and administer medications, 2) a quality review system in place to review drug use and medication errors, and 3) to implement computerized physician order entry with decision support and other tools in the next decade to improve pharmacologic therapy for pediatric patients.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Clinical Pharmacy Information Systems
  • Decision Support Systems, Clinical
  • Disclosure
  • Drug Therapy, Computer-Assisted
  • Drug-Related Side Effects and Adverse Reactions*
  • Hospitals, Pediatric*
  • Humans
  • Medical Records Systems, Computerized
  • Medication Errors / prevention & control*
  • Medication Errors / statistics & numerical data
  • Pediatrics*
  • Safety Management*