Drug Safety

, Volume 42, Issue 1, pp 13–25 | Cite as

The Prevalence of Dose Errors Among Paediatric Patients in Hospital Wards with and without Health Information Technology: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis

  • Peter J. GatesEmail author
  • Sophie A. Meyerson
  • Melissa T. Baysari
  • Johanna I. Westbrook
Systematic Review



The risk of dose errors is high in paediatric inpatient settings. Computerized provider order entry (CPOE) systems with clinical decision support (CDS) may assist in reducing the risk of dosing errors. Although a frequent type of medication error, the prevalence of dose errors is not well described. Dosing error rates in hospitals with or without CPOE have not been compared.


Our aim was to conduct a systematic review assessing the prevalence and impact of dose errors in paediatric wards with and without CPOE and/or CDS.


We systematically searched five databases to identify studies published between January 2000 and December 2017 that assessed dose error rates by medication chart audit or direct observation.


We identified 39 studies, nine of which involved paediatric wards using CPOE with or without CDS. Studies of paediatric wards using paper medication charts reported approximately 8–25% of patients experiencing a dose error, and approximately 2–6% of medication orders and approximately 3–8% of dose administrations contained a dose error, with estimates varying by ward type. The nine studies of paediatric wards using CPOE reported approximately 22% of patients experiencing a dose error, and approximately 1–6% of medication orders and approximately 3–8% of dose administrations contained a dose error. Few studies provided data for individual wards. The severity and prevalence of harm associated with dose errors was rarely assessed and showed inconsistent results.


Dose errors occur in approximately 1 in 20 medication orders. Hospitals using CPOE with or without CDS had a lower rate of dose errors compared with those using paper charts. However, few pre/post studies have been conducted and none reported a significant reduction in dose error rates associated with the introduction of CPOE. Future research employing controlled designs is needed to determine the true impact of CPOE on dosing errors among children, and any associated patient harm.


Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

Peter Gates, Sophie Meyerson, Melissa Baysari and Johanna Westbrook have no conflicts of interest that are directly relevant to the content of this study.


Funding from a National Health and Medical Research Council Partnership Grant (APP1094878) was used to assist with the preparation of this manuscript.

Supplementary material

40264_2018_715_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (119 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (PDF 119 kb)
40264_2018_715_MOESM2_ESM.pdf (241 kb)
Supplementary material 2 (PDF 240 kb)
40264_2018_715_MOESM3_ESM.pdf (253 kb)
Supplementary material 3 (PDF 252 kb)
40264_2018_715_MOESM4_ESM.pdf (318 kb)
Supplementary material 4 (PDF 318 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Centre for Health Systems and Safety Research, Australian Institute of Health InnovationMacquarie UniversityMacquarie ParkAustralia

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