Medical Errors: My Childs Story - Page 2

By John McCormick  |  Posted 2004-08-01 Print this article Print

Baselines study of the efforts by Cincinnati Childrens Hospital Medical Center found that useful systems can cost millions of dollars—as much as $15 million just to install a drug order entry system, according to Nir Menachemi, an assistant professor and director of the Patient Safety Institute at Florida State University.

Not only are these systems expensive, but its difficult to get new software packages to work with existing patient care information systems. And its a headache to get doctors, long accustomed to barking orders at nurses, to sit down at a computer terminal to place pharmacy orders.

But as Cincinnati Childrens Hospital has demonstrated, the effort is worth it. The organizations patient care information system has led to a reduction in medication-order and dispensing errors from almost 120 a month in February 2003 to about 90 a month in February 2004. And the system cut the time it takes to deliver drugs from the pharmacy from close to 2 hours in 2002 to less than 1 hour in 2003.

My daughter is now a healthy, vibrant, smart 5-year-old. My wife, who was still feeling the effects of her injuries more than a year after she left the hospital, has fully recovered.

Kim and I recently read a journal she started keeping after Katie was born. Its filled with details of heroic deeds by doctors and nurses to save our child. And it lists the mistakes that were made during that year. It jogged many memories—including the fact that Katies prescription error was caught by Kim, a registered nurse, who eyeballs the labels of all the familys medications. We confronted the pharmacist in this case, who was shocked at his own mistake. But Im pretty sure he didnt report the incident.

In fact, probably the only complete record of the medical errors made during my daughters first year is my wifes journal. Its time for hospitals and doctors to take record-keeping just as seriously as proper diagnosis.


Before joining Baseline, John was the editor of Inter@ctive Week, another Ziff Davis publication. He was the editorial director at SIGS Publications and the editor of both the print and online editions of CMP Media's InformationWeek. At CMP, he wrote a popular column, 'McCormick Place,' that focused on technology and business. He also served as the editor-in-chief of InfoDaily and appeared as a regular analyst on CNBC's Technology Edge program.



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