Occurrence of Potential Adverse Drug Events from Prescribing Errors in a Pediatric Intensive and High Dependency Unit in Hong Kong: An Observational Study

Celeste L Y Ewig, Hon Ming Cheung, Kwok Ho Kam, Hiu Lam Wong, Chad A Knoderer
Paediatric Drugs 2017, 19 (4): 347-355

BACKGROUND: Critically ill pediatric patients are considered at high risk for medication errors. Although much research focuses on the actual errors, equally important are medication errors that, although intercepted, carried the potential for an adverse drug event. The aim of this study was to determine the occurrence of prescribing errors and potential adverse drug events (pADEs) in a local pediatric intensive and critical care unit (PICU) in Hong Kong. Our secondary objective was to determine the type of error, nature of medication involved and the time of error occurrence.

METHODS: We conducted a prospective observational chart review among patients in a pediatric intensive and high dependency unit between January 16, 2015 and April 20, 2015. Medical charts for each patient were reviewed for the occurrence of a prescribing error or pADE. Each pADE was assessed for the type of error, the classification of agent involved, clinical severity of the error, and the time the error occurred.

RESULTS: Forty-one patients with a mean age of 3.2 years were included in our study. Of these patients, 19 (46.3%) experienced at least one pADE. We identified 131 pADEs, 129 of which were prescribing errors conferring a rate of 6.8 errors per affected patient or 3.1 errors per patient admitted to the PICU. The most common error found in the study was incorrect dose calculation (48.1%), with intravenous fluids (41.7%), cardiovascular agents (15.0%), and anti-infectives (12.5%) the most common agents involved with an error. The majority of the pADEs in our study were either clinically serious (33.1%) or significant (44.9%) in nature. Nearly one in every four errors required monitoring and/or intervention to prevent harm, and almost all (96.9%) of the prescribing errors were intercepted before reaching the patient.

CONCLUSION: This study highlights incorrect dose calculation as the most common prescribing error in a pediatric critical care setting. Intravenous fluids, cardiovascular agents, and anti-infectives were the classes of medication most commonly involved with a pADE. Due to the high-risk nature of medications used and the critical condition of these patients, more than three-quarters of pADEs were considered to be clinically serious or significant in causing patient harm.

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