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Prescription errors common in pediatric residents

Medical residents in Florida and across the United States may be making serious errors when it comes to writing prescriptions for children. A study that was presented at an American Academy of Pediatrics conference revealed that residents who write pediatric prescriptions often make serious errors that could lead to the incorrect dosage of a medication being given to the child.

Researchers from the University of Toledo College of Medicine carried out the study. They looked at the first 10 prescriptions written by 270 residents. The study disclosed that the most common error was writing "as needed" on the prescription without providing a reason. Giving an incorrect duration of the treatment or medication was the next most common error. In prescriptions that required dosage based on weight, 98 percent of the prescriptions didn't note the patient's weight or the weight-based dosage information. The errors were found more often in handwritten prescriptions versus electronic ones. The study also found that junior and senior residents also made the same types of errors.

Researchers believe that medical students aren't receiving enough education about writing prescriptions by hand. Since many hospitals and clinics use electronic prescriptions that have drop-down options, many students aren't being trained in how to write prescriptions by hand. Unfortunately, many residents are required to begin writing prescriptions on the first day of their residency without receiving this training, which may put pediatric patients at risk.

Being prescribed the incorrect medication dosage or not receiving clear instructions on how to give a child a medication may put a child at risk of becoming sicker or developing a secondary condition. This can lead to costly medical bills and loss of wages for the parents or caretakers who look after the child. A lawyer may be able to help a patient's family recover damages if a medical practitioner acted negligently when writing a prescription. In this case, an attorney may be able to show the incorrectly written prescription and help the family win a settlement due to medical malpractice.

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