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Medication errors in Leukemia

According to a new scientific study on children suffering from lymphoblast Leukemia, up to one in five patients do not get the appropriate medication due to errors in establishing the proper chemotherapy. Also other Cancer related researches have discovered wrongly prescribed or administered drugs. Most of the errors had small therapeutical interest, but some of them might expose the children to further reoccurrences or on the other hand to symptoms of a medication overdose.

Every year an astonishing number of almost 89 thousand American patients die in hospitals due to an inappropriate medical treatment, 700 of the death cases being caused by the lack of proper medication. Though, these very often encountered cases of medication mistakes in children especially, are not well studied and researched. The wrong administration of the drugs can occur in one or more of the next steps: some prescriptions are wrongly written by physicians, some are wrongly interpreted and processed by the pharmacists, and some drugs are being administered wrong by the caregivers.

Most common mistakes are made by doctors, pharmacists and parents on outer children that should receive a proper care at home instead of remaining in the hospital for a quite long period of time required for the Leukemia treatment. Most of the outer patients suffer little damage from the medication mistakes as many of the wrong drug prescriptions are traced down before they get to be administered to children. Most errors in the medication are benign as they only get to be administered shortly in a few cases. Cancer drugs are however far more toxic and with precise marrow safe doses. They must be strictly prescribed and administered according to specific even complex protocols.

In a recent study, types and rate of medication errors in children following a Leukemia treatment were searched. All blood cancer children were outpatients receiving prescriptions for the required chemotherapy. The authors of the research reviewed a number of 69 patients which have received medication prescriptions and have been administered leukemia drugs.

19% of the leukemia pediatric patients, meaning 13 of 69 children, were identified to have suffered from a wrong chemotherapy. One or more errors were also detected in about17 children in a group of 172. Twelve of the traced mistakes were caused by a deficient administration of the drugs to the patients and five cases were caused by a wrongly prescribed dose of medication.

Most of the made errors had little clinical meaning, but in 4 children the medication mistakes had the potential of becoming dangerous for the future of the therapy. Some patients even suffer from a late administration of the daily dose and risk reoccurrence while a smaller part of the Leukemia treated children receive an overdose of medication.

Specialists detected a rate of 10% errors in medication and proposed the use of a new simplified chemotherapy protocol to minimize the risk of such mistakes.

About the Author: For greater resources about Leukemia please visit these pages or

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