Based on 3.8 million pediatric discharge records from 22 states in 1997, or approximately 70 percent of all children hospitalized in the United States during that year, the study is believed to be the first of its kind - one based on comprehensive, administrative data - to provide a national snapshot of the issue of pediatric patient safety.
"Children are subject to unique vulnerabilities that predispose them to high rates of in-patient safety failures," said lead study author Marlene Miller, M.D., M.Sc., director of Quality and Safety Initiatives at the Johns Hopkins Children's Center. Miller conducted the research while with the AHRQ.
Among the examples she cited are that "children have a near universal hospitalization for birth, are not able to directly question their own care, and, if their parents or guardians are unavailable, are unable to provide authorized consent for some types of medical care, meaning a possible delay to treatment."
The study, published in the June issue of Pediatrics, reports that the highest rate of pediatric adverse events - 1.5 per 1000 births - involves birth trauma, mostly long bone and skull fractures.
In addition to birth trauma, researchers found children often experience adverse events relating to post-operative infections and other obstetrical complications involving the mother, such as difficulties with anesthesia
"Our findings of high rates of adverse events involving birth trauma clearly indicate that attention needs to be paid to the unique event of childbirth and how health providers can prevent such incidents from occurring during this experience," said Mille
Contact: Jessica Collins
Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions