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Doctor errors in hospitalized children found more often by family

Texans who are seeking medical care for children from a doctor or in a hospital will sometimes be confronted with the wrong diagnosis or some other mistake that can cause damage. Researchers constantly try to sift through data to determine the frequency with which these errors happen. One study found that in four pediatric hospitals, the rates of medical errors reported by family members far surpasses those by hospital incident reports.

The number coming from family members' reporting errors was five times higher than those by the hospitals based on incident reports. Adverse errors were three times higher. The researchers created a family safe interview and gave it to patients' parents and caregivers of 989 children who had been admitted to the hospital. They did this every seven days while the child was in the hospital and before discharge. In determining whether there was an adverse event, the researchers asked if the child became worse or almost became worse due to something the medical facility did and should not have done or because of something they did not do and should have.

It was also asked about mistakes that did not do any damage or if something occurred that could have hurt the child or did upset the child. Of the 717 people who took part, almost 26 percent stated there were 255 occurrences. Half had to do with safety. Of those, 22 were adverse events. 17 were medical errors that did no damage. 11 were adverse events that could not be prevented. There were also eight unidentified adverse events. Seven could have been prevented. Part of the adverse events were negative effects from medication, multiple needle sticks, and a failure to adequately suction.

In 33 of the adverse events that were reported by family members and 39 errors overall, 25 and 20 were found when reviewed by the medical staff. The detection of errors rose by 16 percent; adverse events by 21 percent. 49 percent of errors reported by families and 24 percent of adverse events reported by families were not listed in the medical records.

A child being hospitalized is stressful enough without worrying that worsened condition can come about due to a failure to diagnose or some other mistake. As this report shows, it happens quite frequently and the medical staff does not catch or report it. If damage was done to a loved one because of doctor errors, the family should discuss the matter with a legal professional to determine if there is the basis for a lawsuit.

Source: contemporarypediatrics.modernmedicine.com, "Families detect errors hospital incident reports miss," Marian Freedman, Michael G. Burke MD, June 1, 2017

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