Multidisciplinary approach key to reducing medication errors in kids

July 18, 2014

Multidisciplinary efforts, including physicians, nurses, pharmacists, and families all working together, are needed to eliminate pediatric medication errors, according to a study published recently in Pediatrics.

Dr Rinke

Multidisciplinary efforts, including physicians, nurses, pharmacists, and families all working together, are needed to eliminate pediatric medication errors, according to a study published recently in Pediatrics.

Lead author Michael L. Rinke, MD, PhD, assistant medical director of pediatric quality, at Children’s Hospital at Montefiore in Bronx, New York, and colleagues wanted to determine the effectiveness of interventions to reduce pediatric medication errors and identify persistent gaps in the pediatric medication error reduction literature. They reviewed more than 3,700 abstracts and ultimately included 63 articles which investigated interventions to reduce pediatric medication errors.

Studies of computerized provider order entry with clinical decision support compared with studies without clinical decision support reported a 36% to 87% reduction in prescribing errors; studies of preprinted order sheets revealed a 27% to 82% reduction in prescribing errors, according to the study.

Another study published in the same issue of Pediatrics suggested that when giving medicine at home, parents should switch to metric-only dosing for liquid medications.

“There is convincing evidence that pediatric medication errors can be reduced by a number of different interventions,” said Dr Rinke. “Interventions were not able to be compared against each other because each article used varying definitions for a medical error.  Standard definitions should be created and applied in future research to avoid this problem.”

According to Dr Rinke, there was a lack of research in the following areas: community hospitals, ambulatory populations, administering errors and dispensing errors. 

“Medication errors are harmful and costly,” he said. “This review suggests multiple avenues for hospitals and managed care providers to reduce medication errors.”