Document Type



Paediatrics and Child Health


Objective: The goal of this study was to estimate the proportion and causes of potentially preventable mortality among critically ill children admitted to the pediatric intensive care unit (PICU).
Methods: The medical records of all patients who died in the PICU (age range: one month to 16 years) between January 2014 and December 2015 were evaluated by two independent reviewers to determine whether there had been any delayed recognition of deteriorating conditions, delayed interventions, unintentional/unanticipated harm, medication errors, adverse reactions to transfusions, and hospital-acquired infections that could have resulted in unanticipated death. Preventability was labeled on a 6-point scale.
Results: During the study period, 92 of 690 patients did not survive [median age: 60 months, interquartile range (IQR): 114]. The median Pediatric Risk of Mortality (PRISM) III score was 17 (IQR: 6). Major diagnostic categories included sepsis (n = 29, 35%), central nervous system diseases (n = 16, 17%), oncological/hematological diseases (n = 6, 6%), cardiac diseases (n = 4, 4%), and miscellaneous conditions. None of the deaths had definitive or strong evidence of preventability. Four (4.3%) patients were in category 4 (i.e., possibly preventable, >50/50 chance), 15 (16.3%) in category 3 (possibly preventable, <50/50 chance), 28 (30.4%) had some evidence of preventability, and 45 (49.0%) were labeled as definitely not preventable. Late identification (diagnostic error) of the worsening condition in four (21.0%) patients, slow intervention in six (31.6.0%), and hospital-acquired infections in 10 (52.6%) were found to be related to potentially preventable mortality.
Conclusions: Preventable diagnostic errors and nosocomial infections (NIs) are major contributors to preventable mortality. Structured mortality analysis provides actionable information for future preventive strategies. Improvement in care processes, including clinical decision support systems, could help reduce preventable mortality rates.


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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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