Drug Errors Widespread in Intensive Care Units

Wrong time, missed medication most common types of error; workload, fatigue often cited

FRIDAY, Mar. 13 (HealthDay News) -- Errors in giving parenteral medications appear to be common in intensive care units around the world, according to research published online Mar. 12 in BMJ.

Andreas Valentin, M.D., of the Medical University of Vienna, Austria, and colleagues analyzed data from 1,328 adult patients treated during a 24-hour period in 113 intensive care units in 27 countries. Nurses and physicians on duty in the units during the period reported errors in parenteral medication and details about the errors.

Staff in these units reported 861 errors affecting 441 patients, the authors note. Most frequently, the errors were related to wrong time of administration or missed medication, the investigators found. Errors were most likely to occur during routine situations and least likely during admission and discharge. Workload, stress or fatigue were cited as contributing factors in 32 percent of errors. Although 71 percent of errors reportedly caused no status change in the patient, 12 patients died or had permanent harm as a result of the errors, the researchers report.

"Considering that this number, derived from self reports, might underestimate the frequency and consequences of errors, these results might be of even greater clinical relevance. Our study shows that the administration of parenteral medication is a weak point in patients safety in intensive care. As results are based on data from 113 participating units worldwide, this problem is not attributable to suboptimal care in a few individual units but represents a common pattern," the authors write.

Full Text

Related Stories

No stories found.