An increase of almost 300% of self-diagnoses are incorrectresulting in the intake or administration of drugs for the attention deficit hyperactivity disorderknown as Adhd. This was revealed by the study conducted by researchers from the Center for Injury Research and Policy and the Central Ohio Poison Center at Nationwide Children’s Hospital, published in Pediatrics. ADHD, which involves symptoms such as inattention, hyperactivity and impulsivity, present for at least six months and appearing before the age of seven, is among the most widespread pathologies involving neurodevelopment in pediatric age. Children with ADHD have difficulty completing any task that requires concentration and do not seem to listen to anything they are told.
In 2019, nearly 10% of US children were diagnosed with ADHD. 3.3 million children, or about 5 in 100, in the United States are currently prescribed medications for ADHD. Based on these data, the scientists decided to analyze the characteristics and trends of errors, committed in non-hospital settings, in the administration of drugs for ADHD. The research looked at cases of people under the age of 20reported to US poison control centers, from 2000 to 2021. The results showed an increase in the annual number of cases of taking incorrect medications, linked to ADHD, of 299%, in the time interval between 2000 and 2021. During the study period, poison control centers in the United States reported: 87,691 cases of medication errors involving oversights relating to the unjustified administration of ADHD drugs. The average, for the age group examined, was 3,985 individuals per year. In 2021 alone, 5,235 errors were reported in the administration of medicines, equal to one per child every 100 minutes.
The general trend saw a higher frequency of errors among young males, with a percentage of 76%, and in the age group between 6 and 12 years, with 67% of incorrect diagnoses and treatments. Approximately 93% of the mistakes occurred in domestic environments. The most common scenarios were: in 54% of cases inadvertently taking or administering drugs twice; in 13% the inadvertent intake or delivery of someone else’s drug, finally, in the remaining 13%, the intake or receipt of the wrong drug. “The increase in the number of reported medication errors is consistent with the results of other studies reporting a growth in ADHD diagnoses among US children over the last two decades; this is likely associated with increased use of ADHD medications,” he said Natalie Rineco-author of the study and director of the Central Ohio Poison Control Center at Nationwide Children’s Hospital.
In 83% of cases of incorrect treatment, the individual did not receive treatment plans from medical personnel within a healthcare facility; however, 2.3% of cases required admission to a hospital, of which 0.8% were in critical conditions. Furthermore, a serious medical outcome was found in 4.2% of cases. Some children demonstrated agitation, tremors, convulsions and changes in mental status. Children younger than 6 years old were twice as likely to experience a serious medical outcome and more than three times as likely to be admitted to a health facility, compared to children aged 6 to 19 years. “Since errors in administering drugs for ADHD are preventable, it is necessary to pay greater attention to the education of patients, parents and those who assist children in other areas, such as school,” he underlined Gary Smithautore senior dello studio e direttore del Center for Injury Research and Policy del Nationwide Children’s Hospital.
“Further focus needs to be placed on developing supply and tracking systems that ensure medicines are child-proof,” Smith added. “One strategy could be to move from pill bottles to single-dose packs, such as blisters, which can be useful to prevent them from being supplied without a real medical basis and to remember whether a drug has already been taken or administered,” he suggested Smith. Although prevention efforts must focus on the home environment, according to experts, we must not neglect the areas, such as schools and other settings, where children and adolescents spend time and can potentially receive drugs.
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