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Parents could improve hospital safety, prevent errors

New York families may be surprised to learn that a study conducted in Massachusetts indicates that many parents catch medical mistakes when they take their children to the hospital. The researchers say that this suggests that parents could provide complementary details that may help make health care safer.

The study assessed data from 383 children who were hospitalized in two pediatric units at a Boston facility in 2013 and 2014. The children's parents filled out written surveys to detail any safety issues that their kids experienced. Two doctors reviewed the incidents and classified them as either medical mistakes, quality issues or non-safety problems.

The researchers found that about one in every 10 parents detected medical mistakes that doctors and nurses did not and 34 parents reported 37 safety issues, 23 of which were classified as medical errors. Another nine of them were quality issues, and the remaining five were non-safety problems. Of the 23 medical errors, seven of them were preventable and caused harm to the children. These children seemed to stay in the hospital longer and were more likely than the other children to have neuromuscular or metabolic conditions.

The preventable mistakes included delays in identifying foreign objects left behind following procedures, receiving pain medication, and recognizing and treating urinary retention. The parents said that several of the medical errors were, in part, the result of poor communication such as day and night staff not writing down medication changes or documenting information on the correct medical record.

Medical negligence can often result in a worsened medical condition that can require extensive periods of hospitalization. People who have found themselves or their family members in this type of situation may want to meet with a medical malpractice attorney and discuss possible ways of seeking compensation for their losses.

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