Medication records crucial for sick kids

By • Published: October 12th, 2010
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

Playing games and making new friends are part of growing up. But for some kids, frequent hospital visits are also a fact of life. Those with complex medical conditions have a higher risk of long-term physical, developmental, behavioral or other conditions. And they require far more health services than other children. These vulnerable youngsters can find themselves at extra risk at a time and place they least expect… when they are admitted to the hospital.

Children with complex conditions typically take several different types, formulations and doses of medicine. So they might suffer preventable medication-related errors and needless pain… or even die… if the hospital doesn’t get an accurate medication list when they arrive.

To improve care, researchers are studying how to better record children’s medications when they go from one medical provider to another.

One recent study in the Archives of Disease in Childhood compared the accuracy and availability of children’s medical information from five different sources, including parents, pharmacies and previous hospital admission records. Researchers found it took more than an hour to make sure the details were consistent and complete. But that’s time well-spent if it spares a child unnecessary additional illness.

Omissions of medications were the most common error.

Parents, not surprisingly, proved to be a reliable source of accurate medical information. But compared with pharmacies and electronic health records, they weren’t as accessible at the moments when the information was needed.

Hopefully, with continued research and a little help from technology, parents can focus on kissing away the tears, rather than worrying about their child’s medication records.