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Anaesthesia. 2005 Mar;60(3):257-73.

Medication errors in anaesthesia and critical care.

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1
University Department of Anaesthesia, University of Cambridge, BOX 93, Addenbrooke's Hospital, Cambridge, CB2 2QQ, UK.

Abstract

There is an increasing recognition that medication errors are causing a substantial global public health problem, as many result in harm to patients and increased costs to health providers. However, study of medication error is hampered by difficulty with definitions, research methods and study populations. Few doctors are as involved in the process of prescribing, selecting, preparing and giving drugs as anaesthetists, whether their practice is based in the operating theatre, critical care or pain management. Anaesthesia is now safe and routine, yet anaesthetists are not immune from making medication errors and the consequences of their mistakes may be more serious than those of doctors in other specialties. Steps are being taken to determine the extent of the problem of medication error in anaesthesia. New technology, theories of human error and lessons learnt from the nuclear, petrochemical and aviation industries are being used to tackle the problem.

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