That scary conclusion comes courtesy of an American study in the January issue of The Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine.
The study found these children are at risk for adverse drug events (ADEs) -- problems that result from medications or the lack of an intended medication -- and potential ADEs.
Researchers reviewed medical records and interviewed staffers at a pediatric unit and a pediatric intensive care unit at a major American metropolitan medical center. The researchers studied 1,197 consecutive patient admissions representing 922 patients and 10,164 patient days, from Sept. 15, 2000, to May 10, 2001.
The study identified 76 ADEs and 94 potential ADEs in the study group. That works out to six ADEs per 100 hospital admissions and eight potential ADEs per 100 admissions.
Length of hospital stay and exposure to medications were factors associated with ADE or potential ADE occurrence. The researchers adjusted for length of stay and found medication exposure still had a major influence on ADEs and potential ADEs.
Of the ADEs identified in the study, 24 percent were judged to be serious or life-threatening. However, most of the ADEs weren't associated with major or permanent disability, the study says.
The U.S. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality has a tip sheet on preventing medical errors in children.