Chronically Ill Kids More Vulnerable to Hospital Medical Errors

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Even after accounting for confounding variables such as disease severity and length of stay, pediatric inpatients with chronic conditions are significantly more likely to experience medical errors, according to the results of a study.

Even after accounting for confounding variables such as disease severity and length of stay, pediatric inpatients with chronic conditions are significantly more likely to experience medical errors, according to the results of a study.

Pediatric inpatients with chronic conditions are significantly more likely to experience medical errors while in the hospital, according to the results of a study published online on September 10, 2012, in Pediatrics.

The researchers drew on data from the 2006 Kids’ Inpatient Database, which included information from 3.1 million pediatric discharges from 3739 hospitals in 38 states. The researchers found that 44.1% of pediatric inpatients had at least 1 chronic condition. The overall medical error rate per 100 discharges was 5.3 in children with chronic conditions and 1.3 in children without chronic conditions. The medical error rate per 1000 inpatient days was also higher for children with chronic conditions.

The association between chronic conditions and increased risk of medical errors remained statistically significant after adjusting for patient and hospital characteristics, disease severity, and length of stay. After adjustment, the odds ratio of a medical error was 1.40 for children with 1 chronic condition, 1.55 for children with 2 chronic conditions, and 1.66 for children with 3 or more chronic conditions.

The researchers note that their results suggest that clinicians should be particularly on guard against medical errors when treating children with chronic conditions.

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