How safe are our children in hospital? Not very, it seems, with 11 per cent who are given a drug suffering a serious adverse reaction.
The real dangers are far higher than official figures had suggested, and have been discovered only because researchers developed a more complete, and sensitive, way of detecting drug reactions.
Official figures had put the reaction rate at close to 3 per cent, but researchers from the University of Southern California School of Medicine, have revealed a more alarming picture. They discovered that 11 per cent of children suffer a drug reaction, causing temporary harm, but, more worryingly, 22 per cent of these were preventable.
As a result, America's Joint Commission on health has issued new guidelines for treating children in hospital. They include better packaging of drugs so children are not given adult drugs or dosages, and to use drugs that are especially formulated and licensed for children.
(Source: Pediatrics, 2008; 121: e927-35).