Pediatric Medical Errors

A new survey of pediatricians shows that half of the doctors make mistakes in diagnosing and treating their young patients. The survey, authored by Dr. Geeta Singhal, assistant professor of pediatrics at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, will be published in the July edition of Pediatrics.
According to the survey of 700 pediatricians the most common errors are diagnostic mistakes ranging from medication side effects, psychiatric disorders, appendicitis, asthma and ear infections. The most common error to which the pediatricians admitted relates to distinguishing viral infections from bacterial infections.
Nearly half of the pediatricians surveyed noted that they make medical errors once or twice a year that could cause harm to the child.
Those surveyed cited failure to properly take a medical history, failure to properly and thoroughly examine the patient, and an insufficient review of the patient’s chart as the most significant factors leading to the medical errors.
According to the Businessweek article that published news about the survey, “Dr. Daniel Neuspiel, a liaison on the American Academy of Pediatrics’ Steering Committee on Quality Improvement and Management, said the findings weren’t surprising.
‘We know that errors of all sorts are rampant in health care,” said Neuspiel, director of ambulatory pediatrics at Levine Children’s Hospital in Charlotte, N.C. “The main issue is not lack of knowledge, but that our systems in health care are set up in an antiquated way that allows for flaws to easily occur. The way we work, and I speak for myself as well in my own practice, relies too heavily on memory. Most of the time, I get things right, but not infrequently, I and other well-meaning pediatricians do make errors.'”

Holly Haines