About 7 percent of U.S. children get affected in hospitals due to different "drug events" such as wrong drugs, accidental overdoses and unfavorable reactions. These figures are higher than previously thought simply because of the way information were collected and they give a valuable insight into the frequency of medication-related harm.
The reason many of the mistakes occur may lie in the fact that children's health care in the United States is way too complex and therefore harming the young patients.

Around one thousand randomly selected children from 12 children's hospitals were reviewed. The researchers used a method which consisted of a list of 15 "triggers" that a patient's charts might indicate possible drug-related problems. The triggers included the use of antidotes for drug overdoses, suspicious side effects and lab tests. Adverse drug events have been found for 11.1 of every 100 hospitalized children. Out of these drug reactions, 22 % were preventable, 17.8 % could have been identified earlier, and 16.8 %could have been handled more effectively.

Luckily, most of the events caused only minor harm. Most reported adverse events were rashes and nausea and the most common mistakes not monitoring patients, prescribing the wrong medicine and wrong doses. The drugs that were most commonly misused were pain medications and antibiotics.

The numbers of adverse drug events appear to be the same for both children and adults.

In the last couple of years, significant steps are being taken in order to reduce the number of medication errors by using electronic medical records and bar coding.