A recent study published in Pediatrics has shed light on the concerning increase in medication errors related to attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) medications among children in the United States. The study, conducted by researchers at the Center for Injury Research and Policy and Central Ohio Poison Center at Nationwide Children’s Hospital, analyzed out-of-hospital medication errors reported to U.S. poison centers from 2000 to 2021.
The findings of the study revealed a staggering 299% increase in ADHD-related medication errors over the study period. In total, there were 87,691 reported cases of medication errors involving ADHD medications among individuals under 20 years old, averaging to approximately 3,985 cases per year. The year 2021 alone witnessed 5,235 medication errors, indicating that one child experienced a medication error every 100 minutes.
The study highlighted that males accounted for 76% of the reported medication errors, with the 6-12-year-old age group representing 67% of the errors. It was also found that the majority (93%) of exposures occurred in the home setting. The most common medication error scenarios were inadvertently taking or giving medication twice (54%), inadvertently taking or giving someone else’s medication (13%), and taking or giving the wrong medication (13%).
Furthermore, the study emphasized that although 83% of cases did not require treatment in a healthcare facility, 2.3% resulted in hospital admission, including 0.8% to a critical care unit. Additionally, 4.2% of cases were associated with a serious medical outcome. Symptoms experienced by affected children included agitation, tremors, seizures, and changes in mental status.
The authors of the study emphasized the importance of prevention efforts to address these medication errors. They suggested enhancing patient and caregiver education, developing improved child-resistant medication dispensing and tracking systems, and considering a transition from pill bottles to unit-dose packaging, such as blister packs, to aid in medication management.
While prevention efforts should primarily focus on the home setting, the researchers also emphasized the need for attention to schools and other environments where children and adolescents receive medication.
The data for this study were obtained from the National Poison Data System (NPDS), maintained by America’s Poison Centers, and the study was conducted by the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children’s Hospital.
Source: Pediatrics, Nationwide Children’s Hospital