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Lack of EMT Training May Put Children at Risk for Medical Errors

Unfortunately, medical errors are not limited to healthcare facilities. According to a new study, children may be at risk for a medical mistake before they even arrive at the hospital.

The study, which was recently published in the Journal of Pediatrics, found that emergency medical service (EMS) providers suffer from a lack of experience and training when it comes to treating child patients. The findings come from a survey of 700 EMS technicians from across the country.

As the researchers highlight, EMS providers most frequently treat adult patients. In fact, children account for just 13 percent of all cases and only one percent of transports requiring advanced life support. When asked to identify the most common causes of serious medical errors and near misses involving children, the respondents overwhelmingly cited inexperience in treating the smallest patients.

As Reuters reports, approximately 73 percent of EMS providers identified lack of experience with pediatric breathing tubes as a cause of medical errors. The same percentage also cited heightened anxiety working with children as a primary cause of potentially serious medical mistakes.

“When combined with the anatomic and physiologic differences in children, compared to adults, a potentially challenging and stressful situation is likely to result,” lead author Dr. Jeanne-Marie Guise, an emergency medicine researcher at Oregon Health and Science University in Portland, stated to Reuters.

The survey also revealed that lack of proficiency in pediatric skills was another common concern, with 67 percent of respondents reporting it was very likely to contribute to medical errors. Lastly, 58 percent of the participants noted that inexperience with pediatric equipment could also lead to serious problems.

As San Diego medical malpractice lawyers, the study’s findings are extremely concerning, particularly because they involve some of the most vulnerable patients. We are hopeful that EMS providers will take steps to reduce the risk of errors through additional training and education.

If you or someone you love has suffered from medical negligence, don’t hesitate to contact a San Diego personal injury attorney at the Law Offices of Robert Vaage for a free consultation.