Wrong drug administration or a drug mix up can cause serious harm to the health of the patient. The risk increases manifolds, if the patient happens to be a child. A baby, kid or grown up child are at high risk from wrong drug administration and it is of utmost importance for the healthcare facility to follow the stringent Joint Commission laws specially created for this purpose.
Children at Higher Risk to Faulty Medication
When it comes to medication errors the children are at a greater risk and face more harm to their health than adults due to following reasons.
- The drugs are generally formulated and concentrated keeping in mind the needs of the adult patients. For pediatric patients the drug dosage is altered to suit the needs of the children and this is where errors creep in.
- Most of the healthcare settings are designed to handle the adult patients and generally lack the pediatric handling capabilities to address the medical needs of the children,exposing them to risks of drug complications.
- As the children cannot communicate effectively about the side effects of the drug the medical staff does not get the feedback, which it can get from an adult patient. As a result it becomes difficult to mitigate the side effects due to wrong medication.
- Lack of proper documentation and communication gap during the change of shift, admission, discharge or transfer of the child patient from one hospital to other is one other major reason of pediatric drug complication.
Employing Joint Commission Strategies
As the harm to the children due to faulty medication is more pronounced, the Joint Commission has several rules in place and at same time suggests newer practices with the sole objective to protect the children from drug complications.
- The health facility should follow a standardized pediatric drug formulation policy and place stringent quality checks to ensure the right the dosage concentration before it is administered to the patient.
- The medical staff should be trained to administer oral medicines by oral syringes and thus prevent their administration through venous route.
- The medics should communicate effectively with parent on how to maintain the same level of drug dosage after discharge of the child from health facility as a part of continued treatment and recovery.
- To prevent mix up of dosage concentration, the adult drugs should be kept separate from the pediatric preparations. Further wherever possible commercially available pediatric specific formulation should be used.
- All pediatric patients should be weighed in kilograms and the requisite dosage of the drug should be administered according to the weight.
- Pediatric experts and pharmacist should be assigned to the child care unit to oversee medication process and at same time guide the medical staff on how to follow the requisite safety standards for pediatric care.
- High risk medications should be given in minimum required dosage strength and frequency to protect child from associated side effects.
- The nurses, paramedics and the pharmacist should be well trained in use of specialized pediatric equipments.
- The Joint Commission requires the health care facilities to employ continuous monitoring of the child under sedation, through pulse oxyimetry to prevent over sedation and its fatal consequences.
In the end the Joint Commission lays stress on building a proper communication channel between the caregiver or parents with the doctors or nurses to ensure that all the information about the medication procedure of the child is well understood by the parents. As a part of extended treatment in the home, the parents should clearly understand the dosage concentration, timing, route of delivery and the side effects associated with drugs. This will ensure that the child is protected from the drug overdose or complication even when he or she is at home, recovering from the illness, after being discharged from the health facility.
Joint Commission regulations protect children from faulty medication.
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