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Study Reports 585,000 Children Experience Drug Side Effects Every Year

UPDATED: December 16, 2019

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A new study, published in the October 2009 issue of Pediatrics, reports that over 585,000 children experience side effects or have bad reactions to widely used prescription medications to treat ear infections, strep throat and others that may require hospitalization. So, why is this occurring in such astronomical numbers and how can you avoid prescription errors?

Bad Drugs or Improper Administration?

According to the study, which was funded by the National Library of Medicine and the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, the numbers reported are likely a combination of both. Researchers looked at national emergency room and medical clinic visits over a 10 year period from 1995 to 2005 and found that the average number of kids being treated for bad drug reactions was an astronomical 585,922 and that about 5 percent of those cases (approximately 30,000) required hospitalization. Here's what the study says about bad drugs and improper administration:

  • Bad drugs. Some of the more common prescription drugs associated with bad reactions included those which treat ear infections, strep throat, depression, cancer and certain birth control pills. The study broke down the number of bad reactions by age as follows:
    • Children under 5 years of age: 43%
    • Children between 5 and 14 years of age: 34%
    • Teens ages 15-18: 23%
  • Improper administration. The study also suggests that improper administration of medications, especially for younger children, was also a problem  for kids being treated both in medical facilities and at home  as dosages which are administered in liquid form can easily become confused with drugs administered in pill form.

What to Do If Your Child Experiences Drug Side Effects

It's no secret that prescription errors often cause serious injuries. If your child experiences drug side effects, it's important to have the situation diagnosed and treated by a healthcare professional first and foremost. However, if you find that the cause of your child's injuries was due to the negligence of another, such as a drug company's lack of warning about possible side effects or a medical professional's improper administration, contact an experienced personal injury attorney to discuss your situation. Even if you do not have any legal recourse, it will give you peace of mind to know that you've explored the option ý and initial consultations are generally without charge.

Additional Information on Avoiding Prescription Errors

The Institute for Safe Medication Practices (IMSP), a nonprofit organization that provides education not only to the healthcare community, but also to consumers about safe medication practices, provides helpful consumer tips on safe medication use at home, while in the hospital or at a doctorýs office. For additional information, see their website at

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