Childhood medication errors need to be Tackled


A new report has revealed the alarming number of youngsters who are subject to medication prescribing and dispensing errors, putting their health and safety in jeopardy. The study suggests that improvements in paediatric primary care need to be made to reduce these potentially harmful medication mistakes.  Some pharmacies are investing in Lin Bins sourced from sites like which enable them to put the medication in individual tubs with a label clearly stating which medicine it is.

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The findings

Epidemiologists and medical statisticians studied over 2,000 paediatric safety incident reports, with data taken from GP surgeries, community pharmacies, NHS 111 and out-of-hours services. The findings concluded that almost a third of errors were harmful, 41 cases resulted in severe harm and 12 fatalities occurred.

According to The Pharmaceutical Journal, medication errors are the most common reason for safety incidents in children in primary care. Based on findings, 674 incidents were related to medicine mistakes. Of these, 57% involved dispensing mistakes in community pharmacies, 18% were related to incorrect medicine administration, and 10% involved prescribing errors.

Frequent errors

The report found that children less than 12 months old were most frequently involved in medication-related incidents, often when treated for epilepsy, infection or asthma. The wrong dose of medicine, brand or inhaler were factors that contributed to the medical incidents, often occurring as a result of confusion over medication with similar names, packaging or branding, or human error through distraction at work or being very busy.

The study also showed that diagnosis and assessment of youngsters needed more attention and that communication with or about the patient was often a concern.

Improved safety

It’s already well documented how important safety is, with clinical trial services looking at new medications. However, it seems the same diligence needs to be employed with regards to prescribing and dispensing medication in the community. In particular, researchers concluded that very little is known about just how safe healthcare is for youngsters in the community.

The research highlights the importance of improving primary care for children, including providing safer and more reliable systems for dispensing medication. The report also suggests that the NHS 111 service should be overhauled, to make it better suited for paediatric care.

Researchers believe errors could be minimised if there was improved paediatric training for healthcare providers, such as trainee doctors, as well as a better understanding of triage systems. Crucially, understanding communication failures between care givers and primary and secondary care practitioners could slash the frequency of mistakes.