Intensive Care Medicine

, Volume 27, Issue 10, pp 1592–1598 | Cite as

Medication administration errors in adult patients in the ICU

  • Andrea D. Calabrese
  • Brian L. Erstad
  • Katherine Brandl
  • Jeffrey F. Barletta
  • Sandra L. Kane
  • Deb S. Sherman
Original

Abstract.

Objective: To quantify the incidence and specify the types of medication administration errors from a list of error-prone medications and to determine if patient harm resulted from these errors. Design: An observational evaluation. Setting: Five intensive care units (ICUs) in the United States. Patients and participants: Eight hundred fifty-one patients who were at least 18 years of age and admitted to surgical, medical or mixed ICUs during a 3 month period were included. Interventions: None. Measurements and results: A list of error-prone medications was adapted from the literature and evaluated for medication errors and patient harm. Of 5,744 observations in 851 patients, 187 (3.3%) medication administration errors were detected. the therapeutic classes most commonly associated with errors were vasoactive drugs 61 (32.6%) and sedative/analgesics 48 (25.7%). The most common type of error was wrong infusion rate with 71 (40.1%) errors. Twenty-one errors did not reach the patient and 159 reached the patient but did not result in harm, increased monitoring or intervention. Five errors required increased patient monitoring and two required intervention. None of the errors resulted in patient death. Conclusions: This multicenter evaluation found fewer medication administration errors than the published literature, possibly due to the varying observational techniques and pharmacist involvement. Lorazepam and wrong infusion rates are associated with errors that occurred frequently, resulted in the greatest potential for harm and were common oversights in the system. These errors should be considered potential areas for betterment in the medication use process to improve patient safety.

Adverse drug event Preventable events Prescribing and medication administration errors Independent observation approach High-alert medications 

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2001

Authors and Affiliations

  • Andrea D. Calabrese
    • 1
  • Brian L. Erstad
    • 2
  • Katherine Brandl
    • 3
  • Jeffrey F. Barletta
    • 4
  • Sandra L. Kane
    • 5
  • Deb S. Sherman
    • 6
  1. 1.Department of Pharmacy, VA Medical Center, Phoenix, Arizona, 85012, USAUSA
  2. 2.Department of Pharmacy Practice & Science, College of Pharmacy, University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona 85718, USAUSA
  3. 3.University of New Mexico College of Pharmacy, 2502 Marble NE, Albuquerque, NM 87131-5691, USAUSA
  4. 4.Department of Pharmacy Services, Detroit Receiving Hospital, 4201 St. Antoine, Detroit, MI 48201, USAUSA
  5. 5.The Ohio State University, College of Pharmacy, 500 West 12th Avenue, Columbus, Ohio 43210, USAUSA
  6. 6.Department of Pharmacy, St. Vincent Hospital, 2001 W. 86th Street, Indianapolis, IN 46260, USAUSA

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