Policy statement outlines ways to improve pediatric medication safety

Originally Published By 2 Minute Medicine®. Reused on MPR with permission.

1. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) provided a policy statement outlining recommendations to reduce pediatric medication dispensation errors and adverse drug events in emergency rooms.

2. Recommendations center on standardized medication dosing and dispensing, improved technology systems, and increased training in pediatric medication safety.

Statement Rundown: Errors in medication dispensation are a major source of morbidity and mortality for hospitalized patients. Studies suggest error rates are up to 3 times more common among pediatric patients compared to adults.1,2 Factors that contribute to errors, including hectic environments, lack of clinical pharmacists, many transitions of care, and unfamiliarity with weight-based dosing and pediatric formulations, are even more common in the emergency department setting. A panel of multidisciplinary experts identified areas for improvement and developed recommendations to decrease adverse events related to pediatric emergency care medication errors. The report suggested that changes be targeted at all levels of emergency care, from the pre-hospital setting through at-home care following discharge. Major areas of improvement included:

  • Standardizing dosing guidelines and pre-populated order sets;
  • Improving electronic medical record and medication dispensing technology to provide more precalculated doses, decreasing available medication concentrations, and improving verification of medication orders prior to dispensation;
  • Increasing ED specialized pharmacist availability;
  • Increasing training for providers and health care workers from all disciplines involved in pediatric emergency care; and
  • Improving patient education and community education

Click to read the policy statement, published today in Pediatrics

Relevant reading: Reported medication events in a pediatric emergency research network: sharing to improve patient safety. 

Related Articles


  1. Kaushal R, Bates DW, Landrigan C, et al. Medication errors and adverse drug events in pediatric inpatients. JAMA. 2001;285(16):2114–2120
  2. Woo Y, Kim HE, Chung S, Park BJ. Pediatric medication error reports in Korea adverse event reporting system database, 1989-2012: comparing with adult reports. J Korean Med Sci. 2015;30(4):371–377

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