September 23, 2012

In a study of data regarding children who were hospitalized during 2006 in 38 states in the United States, researchers found that 44.1 % of hospitalized children had a least one chronic condition such as cancer, asthma, or digestive disorders (the researchers found that 22.3% of children who were inpatients in hospitals had one chronic condition; 9.8% had two chronic conditions, and 12.0% had three or more chronic conditions). The overall medical error rate for hospitalized children in 2006 was 3.0%, with hospitalized children with chronic conditions experiencing a hospital error rate of 5.3% and hospitalized children who did not have chronic conditions having a 1.3% hospital error rate.

Adjusting the rate for patient characteristics, hospital characteristics, disease severity, and length of stay, the rate of hospital errors for children with one chronic condition was 1.4%; for hospitalized children with two chronic conditions, the rate of hospital errors was 1.55%; and, for hospitalized children with three chronic conditions, the rate of hospital errors was 1.66%. Thus, the more chronic conditions a hospitalized child has increases his/her risk that a hospital error with effect them.

The hospital errors were identified by examining hospital discharge records for treatment codes that indicated that a hospital error had occurred. The hospital errors that were studied were considered to be preventable and included adverse reactions to medications, the development of pressure ulcers, and post-surgical infections. The study did not analyze the number of children who suffered actual harm or injuries from the hospital errors. The study also did not look into the causes of the hospital errors, which may be influenced, in part, by the fact that children with chronic conditions tend to be hospitalized for longer periods of time and their medical treatment may be more complicated or extensive.


The data base used in the study is called The Kids’ Inpatient Database (KID). The KID is the only dataset on hospital use, outcomes, and charges designed to study children’s use of hospital services in the United States. The KID is a sample of discharges from all community, non-rehabilitation hospitals in States participating in HCUP (Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project). Pediatric discharges are defined as all discharges where the patient was age 20 or less at admission.

The KID contains charge information on all patients, regardless of payer, including persons covered by private insurance, Medicaid, Medicare, and the uninsured. The KID’s large sample size enables analyses of rare conditions, such as congenital anomalies and uncommon treatments, such as organ transplantation. It can be used to study a wide range of topics including the economic burden of pediatric conditions, access to services, quality of care and patient safety, and the impact of health policy changes. Inpatient stay records in the KID include clinical and resource use information typically available from discharge abstracts. The KID is available every three years beginning with 1997.


If your child was injured as a result of a hospital mistake, a hospital error, or hospital negligence, you should promptly seek the advice of a local medical malpractice attorney to discuss your possible medical malpractice claim.

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