Surge In ADHD Medication Errors By 300%: Insights From A Central Florida Specialist

Sep 27, 2023 at 02:33 pm by Matt

A surge has been found in ADHD medication errors by 300%. Here are the insights from a Central Florida specialist. A recent study has exposed a significant increase in incidents of ADHD medication errors stemming from user error, as reported to poison control centers. A specialist from Central Florida has shared their perspective on this alarming trend and proposed possible solutions.

Over the past two decades, poison control centers have witnessed a notable increase in cases linked to errors in ADHD medication usage. According to research conducted by the American Academy of Pediatrics, spanning the years from 2000 to 2021, poison control centers nationwide experienced a staggering 300% surge in calls related to children's incorrect use of ADHD medications outside of hospital settings.

Dr. Lisa Spector Weighs In About ADHD Medication Errors

Dr. Lisa Spector, the Division Chief for the Division of Developmental Behavioral Pediatrics at Nemours Children's Hospital in Central Florida, shed light on this situation. Here’s what she shared with local sources, "When we contemplate the utilization of these medications, it's not surprising. There has been a remarkable uptick in the diagnosis of ADHD among children in the past couple of decades."

As the number of children relying on ADHD medication has increased, so too has the chance of errors, Dr. Spector emphasized.

Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) showed that from 2003 to 2011, about 6.4 million children received a diagnosis of ADHD. In the most recent data collection, spanning from 2016 to 2019, this figure climbed to 6 million, indicating a large surge in diagnoses.

Florida Children Surpass National Average

In 2012, 65% of parents in Florida with children diagnosed with ADHD reported that their child was using medication, surpassing the national average of 62%.

The American Academy of Pediatrics study underscored that most calls made to poison control centers concerning ADHD medications involved children ages 6 to 12, with about 76% of cases affecting boys. Although most cases did not require hospitalization, children under the age of 6 were more susceptible to severe medical complications.

Dr. Spector stressed that some parents of children with ADHD have resorted to "experimenting" by administering unprescribed medication to one child, obtained from a prescribed sibling. She cautioned against this practice, stating, "If a child has an underlying structural heart defect, these medications can lead to additional cardiac complications and, in exceedingly rare instances, sudden cardiac death."

ADHD Medication Errors Can Lead To Possible Cardiac Complications

While arrhythmia presents a potential cardiac complication, fatalities are extremely rare. The AAP study did not report any deaths, but 4.2% of cases (equivalent to 3,561 cases) resulted in serious medical episodes.

The AAP study identified that the most common medication errors involved patients forgetfully taking a second pill, often not realizing they had already taken the first. Given the nature of ADHD, Dr. Spector acknowledged the ease with which such mistakes can occur.

"ADHD is highly hereditary, often affecting other family members," she explained. "I can envision a scenario where one parent believes the child has received medication, while the other parent thinks they have not, leading to the child unintentionally receiving a double dose."

The Prevention Of These Errors

To prevent such errors, healthcare professionals recommend maintaining a strict medication schedule and keeping ADHD medication out of the reach of young children.

Dr. Spector underscored the importance of securing medication: "Storing medication in a secure location and ensuring supervised administration are vital measures to prevent medication-related mishaps."

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