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J Heart Lung Transplant. 2010 Aug;29(8):841-6. doi: 10.1016/j.healun.2010.03.008. Epub 2010 Apr 28.

Prostacyclin administration errors in pulmonary arterial hypertension patients admitted to hospitals in the United States: a national survey.

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Department of Internal Medicine, Division of Pulmonary, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas, Dallas, Texas, USA.



Epoprostenol and treprostinil are intravenous prostacyclin medications used to treat pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH). This survey explored hospital policies regarding prostacyclin infusions, and investigated the type and frequency of errors that occurred in the inpatient setting.


Information on prostacyclin infusion policies and inpatient errors was obtained through detailed interviews with 18 PAH nurses, and through an electronic survey completed by 97 PAH clinicians.


The electronic survey respondents reported wide variability in prostacyclin infusion policies, including variability in the use of home vs hospital infusion pumps, and variability in the use and storage of back-up epoprostenol and treprostinil. Serious or potentially serious errors in medication administration were reported by 68% of survey respondents. The most common error types (reported by >or=25%), included: incorrect cassette placed in the pump; inaccurate pump programming; errant drug dosing; and inadvertent cessation of the pump. Nine errors, all at different centers, were believed to have contributed to patient death. In the separate interviews with the PAH nurses, 94% reported serious errors. These errors prompted many of the centers to implement policy changes in an attempt to reduce future errors, improve safety and optimize patient outcomes.


These findings suggest that prostacyclin infusion therapy is problematic and that an opportunity exists to improve safety. The development of standardized treatment guidelines should be considered.

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