Thursday, 3 July 2008

One in four child deaths is 'avoidable' says report exposing wrong diagnoses and treatments

Full Story:

Failures in care by medical professionals, social workers and parents are responsible for one in four child deaths, according to a Government-backed report. A panel of experts reviewed 126 deaths in one year and found 'avoidable factors', such as doctors misdiagnosing a serious illness or giving the wrong treatment, in 26 per cent of cases. A further 43 per cent were due to 'potentially avoidable factors' – including missing important immunisations or delays in treatment. The study, by the Confidential Enquiry into Maternal and Child Health (CEMACH), found that in two thirds of the cases, the children died in hospital, many of them on emergency wards staffed by a high ratio of junior doctors with little paediatric training. The review, the first of its kind, was funded by the Department of Health. It highlighted the fact that levels of experience and standards of care for children 'vary considerably' across the country. It states: 'We have found, throughout this review, examples of failure to make thorough examinations and correctly interpret clinical signs. In some cases these failures have made significant contributions to the child's death. 'The errors concerned were repeated and compounded by the fact that the principal assessment was being performed by a junior doctor with no postgraduate training in paediatrics in settings where there was no supervision by an experienced specialist or paediatrician.' The study team collected data on children under 18 who died in 2006 and the experts evaluated more than 120 deaths in detail. Around 3,000 children die in Britain every year.

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