The benefit of houseofficer education on proper medication dose calculation and ordering
Department of Emergency Medicine, Bellevue Hospital Center/New York University School of Medicine, New York, NY, USA. Academic Emergency Medicine
(Impact Factor: 2.01).
Drug dosing errors commonly cause morbidity and mortality. This prospective controlled study was performed to determine: 1) residents' understanding of drug dose calculations and ordering; and 2) the short-term effect of a brief educational intervention on the skills required to properly calculate dosages and order medications.
The study was conducted at an urban public hospital with a four-year emergency medicine (EM) residency program. The EM residents served as the study group and were unaware of the study design. A written, eight-question test (T1) with clinical situations and factual questions was administered. Immediately following the test, correct answers were discussed for 30 minutes. Key concepts were emphasized. Six weeks later, a repeat test (T2a) with a similar format was administered to the study group. The same test (T2b) was simultaneously administered to a control group, residents of similar training who did not take T1, in order to determine test equivalency (T1 vs T2). Tests were graded using explicit criteria by a single investigator blinded to the order of administration.
Twenty residents completed both tests T1 and T2a. Their mean scores were 48% and 70%, respectively (p < 0.001, paired t-test). The control group of ten residents had a mean score of 49% (T2b), similar to the study group's scores on T1 (T1 vs T2b, p = 0.40, unpaired t-test).
Emergency medicine residents require specific training in calculating and executing drug ordering. A brief educational intervention significantly improved short-term performance when retested six weeks later. Long-term retention is unknown.
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ABSTRACT: Tenfold errors in medication dosing continue to occur despite being a well-recognized risk, particularly to pediatric patients. Few systematic evaluations of the characteristics and causes of tenfold medication dosage prescribing errors have been performed.
To identify and quantify the characteristics of tenfold medication dosage prescribing errors.
Evaluation of 200 consecutively detected medication orders with tenfold errors in dosing in a 631-bed tertiary-care teaching hospital.
Type, frequency, characteristics, causes, enabling factors, and potential for adverse effects of tenfold medication dosage prescribing errors.
Two hundred cases of tenfold prescribing errors were detected over an 18-month period. Overdoses were prescribed in 61% of the cases and underdoses in 39% of the cases. Ninety (45%) of the errors were rated as potentially serious or severe; 19.5% of the errors ocurred in pediatric patients. Levothyroxine accounted for 19% of all errors. As a class, antimicrobials, cardiovascular agents, and central nervous system agents each accounted for > or =15% of errors. Errors were associated with multiple zeroes in the dose (45%), use of equations or calculations to determine dose (27% total cases, 92.3% of pediatric cases), dose amount less than 1 (25%), and expression of measure conversion (23%). The tenfold errors were produced by a misplaced decimal point in 87 cases (43.5%), adding an extra zero in 63 cases (31.5%), and omitting a zero in 50 cases (25%). Factors identified as enabling a tenfold error to be carried out as ordered were a wide dose range for the drug (76.5%), medication ordered and able to be given by injection (42%), ability to give ordered dose as < or =5 solid oral dosage forms (36%), and availability of an oral liquid dose form (15%).
Prescribing of tenfold medication dose errors is common and is associated with identifiable risk factors. Implementing commonly recommended medication safety processes are likely to reduce risk to patients from such errors. This information should be considered in the development of strategies to prevent adverse patient outcomes resulting from such errors.
Available from: Daniel W Wheeler
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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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