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Arch Dis Child. 2000 Dec;83(6):492-7.

Medication errors in a paediatric teaching hospital in the UK: five years operational experience.

Author information

1
Department of Child Health, University of Glasgow, Royal Hospital for Sick Children, Yorkhill NHS Trust, Glasgow G3 8SJ, UK. LINDAROSS@cqm.co.uk

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

In the past 10 years, medication errors have come to be recognised as an important cause of iatrogenic disease in hospital patients.

AIMS:

To determine the incidence and type of medication errors in a large UK paediatric hospital over a five year period, and to ascertain whether any error prevention programmes had influenced error occurrence.

METHODS:

Retrospective review of medication errors documented in standard reporting forms completed prospectively from April 1994 to August 1999. Main outcome measure was incidence of error reporting, including pre- and post-interventions.

RESULTS:

Medication errors occurred in 0.15% of admissions (195 errors; one per 662 admissions). While the highest rate occurred in neonatal intensive care (0.98%), most errors occurred in medical wards. Nurses were responsible for most reported errors (59%). Errors involving the intravenous route were commonest (56%), with antibiotics being the most frequent drug involved (44%). Fifteen (8%) involved a tenfold medication error. Although 18 (9.2%) required active patient intervention, 96% of errors were classified as minor at the time of reporting. Forty eight per cent of parents were not told an error had occurred. The introduction of a policy of double checking all drugs dispensed by pharmacy staff led to a reduction in errors from 9.8 to 6 per year. Changing the error reporting form to make it less punitive increased the error reporting rate from 32.7 to 38 per year.

CONCLUSION:

The overall medication error rate was low. Despite this there are clear opportunities to make system changes to reduce error rates further.

Comment in

PMID:
11087283
PMCID:
PMC1718567
DOI:
10.1136/adc.83.6.492
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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