Medical errors are a major problem in the UK and other countries. Apart from the direct expense to the healthcare system, there are great personal costs to those involved including patients, their families and staff, and public confidence is undermined. Therefore, policy initiatives have been implemented to reduce such mistakes. Medication errors are thought to be the most common type of medical errors, with the majority of studies being conducted in adults. However, recent evidence highlights the fact that medication errors are also a significant problem in the paediatric population. This paper reviews the factors contributing to paediatric medication errors, including lack of appropriate paediatric formulations, communication issues between health professionals, dose calculation mistakes and inadequate clinical practice. This review will also discuss risk reduction strategies such as electronic prescribing and computerised physician order entry (CPOE) systems which can significantly reduce paediatric medication errors in conjunction with pharmacist monitoring, improved communication and environments which promote best practice.
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Funding: IW has received funding from the UK Medical Research Council, the Department of Health in England, First Databank Ltd and JAC to research medication errors and the use of technology in their reduction. The authors received funding from the European Community’s VI framework programme, project number LSHB-CT-2005-005216: Taskforce in Europe for Drug Development for the Young (TEDDY) to prepare guidelines for the detection and prevention of paediatric medication errors.
Competing interests: None.