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Our Flawed Health Care System Hurts Kids Too

One of the most popular articles on my site in recent years has been the multi-part series on the sometimes fatal reach of our flawed health care system. Findings of a new study by researchers at nearby Northwestern University offer a crystal-clear and disturbing picture of that ominous trend: Nearly 70,000 children hospitalized in the United States experience an adverse event each year and at least 60 percent of these errors may be PREVENTABLE.

Specifically, these adverse events are injuries caused by MEDICAL MANAGEMENT and not diseases that result in either a longer hospital stay or a disability at discharge, according to the study. The data were derived from the records of more than 3,700 hospital patients from newborns to 20-year-olds and compared to information from adult patients ages 21-65.

One out of every 100 patients experienced an adverse event. Looking at the numbers, notice a disturbing trend in the incidence of problems as children reach their teens:

  • 0.5 percent in newborns and infants
  • 0.22 percent in children, ages 1-12
  • 0.95 percent in adolescents, ages 13-20
  • 1.5 percent in the adult group

Of preventable adverse event types, birth- (over 32 percent) and diagnostic-related (over 30 percent) problems were the most common, significantly more than surgically-related events (3.5 percent).

EurekAlert January 19, 2005

Pediatrics Vol. 115 No. 1 January 2005, pp. 155-160

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