Study Examines Cause of Errors in Opioid Infusion Errors in Children

Of all of the types of pharmacy and medication errors that are made, some of the most frightening to think about are those that occur with children.

One recent study (registration required) focused on errors made with pain medicine, specifically opioid infusions in children.

The researchers in the study analyzed patient safety and pharmacy data in search of potential critical incidents in patients receiving opioid transfusions over a five year period, from December 2004 to December 2009. Those incidents that scored at least an 8 out of 10 for seriousness were then further investigated in order to conduct an analysis regarding the cause of the error.

The researchers initially identified 166 potential incidents. Out of those, 58 incidents included one (45) or more than one (13) relevant critical incidents. According to the researchers, the most common incident was opioid administration error, which had occurred in 39 of the cases cases (67%).

Fourteen of the incidents were isolated for root cause analysis, which identified 31 root causes. The most frequent and significant ones involved defective preprinted order sheets for the opioid infusions; lack of nursing guidelines for the infusion adjustment rate and weaning off the medication; and inadequate policies and guidelines for monitoring and recording pain, vital signs and arousal. Most significantly, the errors were attributable to an issue with policies/procedures, communication errors, environmental/equipment issues, and inadequate training.

While researchers were not able to study the potential impact of fatigue because the study was retrospective, they did identify one major problem, which involved the transferring of patients between units. The errors were more likely to occur at that point in time because there was no standard set of policies and procedures, increasing the potential likelihood for error.

These types of errors are scary, because we all know that overdoses in these heavily concentrated pain medications can lead to catastrophic results.

In 2006, the Institute of Medicine reported that medication errors harm no less than 1.5 million people per year. Other studies indicate that 400,000 injuries occur in hospitals every year due to medication errors. If you or a loved one has been harmed as a result of a medication error, you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries and related damages. Potentially recoverable expenses include things such as medical bills, physical or other therapies, potential future medical costs, amounts for pain and suffering, and lost wages.

If you or a loved one has been injured or died as a result of a medication or pharmacy dispensing error, contact the experienced Maryland personal injury attorneys at Lebowitz & Mzhen Personal Injury Lawyers. Our lawyers have extensive experience in advocating on behalf of individuals who have been harmed by medication errors, whether they were improperly prescribed, dispensed, or administered. Contact us today by calling us at (800) 654-1949 or through our website, in order to schedule your complimentary initial consultation.

More Blog Posts:

New Heparin Labels Intended to Reduce Fatal Overdoses, Pharmacy Error Injury Lawyer Blog, published July 25, 2013
Lawmakers Reverse Decision to Shut Down Pharmacy Blamed for Causing Heart Attack, Pharmacy Error Injury Lawyer Blog, published July 18, 2013

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