Impact of an intervention to reduce prescribing errors in a pediatric intensive care unit
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To identify and reduce medication prescribing errors in a pediatric intensive care unit (PICU) by means of an educational program designed to improve medical prescriptions.
Before–after interventional study in a tertiary-level PICU. Handwritten prescriptions were prospectively collected: 2,228 during period 1 and 1,791 during period 2. In both periods elements of good prescribing practice including error indicators and quality indicators were studied. The interventional program included four measures: standardization of prescription sources, pocket tables with dosing guidelines, an updated prescription protocol, and an educational program on correct prescribing.
The prescribing error (PE) rate decreased from 34.2 to 21.7 % after the intervention. Lack of administration route was considered separately for its high prevalence, 30 and 20.8 % of prescriptions, respectively. The most frequent error was presence of some illegible element (59 %). Legibility was the element of prescription experiencing the greatest reduction in error rate, from 4.1 % of prescriptions with one or more illegible elements in period 1 to 0.2 % in period 2. Tenfold overdosage decreased from two cases in period 1 to one case in period 2. The attending physician and on-call physician were associated with more PEs in both periods. The number of prescriptions with two or more errors decreased from 3.1 to 0.7 %. Errors reaching the patient were scarce, 14 (0.63 %) in period 1 and 6 (0.34 %) in period 2, without adverse events.
Implementation of an educational program for physicians may significantly reduce the prescribing error rate in a PICU.
KeywordsMedication errors Prescribing error Intensive care unit Pediatrics
We acknowledge the financial support received from the Biomedical Research Foundation of the Hospital Universitario 12 de Octubre de Madrid.
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