Unintentional but Serious Errors in Hospital Care for Newborns
Remember the case of the Quaid twins and the heparin mistake? You`d think it was an unfortunate but isolated incident, right? Something that normally doesn`t happen in hospitals in the developed world. Well, think again.
A study in France whose results were recently published in The Lancet reported that such mistakes actually happen frequently. Too frequently, I would say. They call it iatrogenic events (IEs) ? defined as unintended harm or suffering caused by health care. The researchers followed up 388 newborn babies admitted to a French neonatal hospital between January and September 2005. 267 cases of IEs in 116 newborn babies were recorded. Other findings include:
- 34% of the IEs were preventable.
- 29% of the IEs were severe.
- 2 cases were fatal.
The most common events were infections contracted at the hospital itself.
There were 34 IEs that were due to drugs, 19 of which were medication errors.
Unintentional, accidental, whatever they call it. The fact is, these are newborn babies we are talking about. Little human beings who can`t cry for help or complain about the care they are getting. I know that health care providers are only human but oh, this is so unfair!
The case of the Quaid twins was highly publicized but actually they weren`t the only babies who were given the wrong heparin dose at that time. It makes you wonder how many similar cases were actually unreported.