Researchers have warned that hospital staff are making too many mistakes when prescribing drugs to children.
Investigators from the University of London who studied five hospitals in the capital discovered 13% of 3,000 prescriptions were wrong, and on five occasions they had to stop nurses from administering drugs to protect young patients.
According to their report published in the journal Archives of Disease in Childhood, about 20% of medicines given to children in 2004 and 2005 were incorrect at these hospitals.
The researchers spent two weeks on 11 wards, observing nurses, and found there were 429 mistakes out of 1,554 drugs doses given to 265 children.
This overall error rate was 19%, but when reviewing 3,000 prescriptions given to 444 children during the same two weeks, pharmacists corrected nearly 13% - mostly due to incomplete prescriptions but 33% were dosing mistakes.
Researchers said they thought other UK hospitals would have similar results, and said the findings have a modern relevance despite the study being five-years old.
“It is highly unlikely that the situation has changed since our study was done. That is because prescribing for children is very difficult,” said study author Professor Ian Wong.