How to Prevent Medication Errors in Children August 9, 2013.

Administering opioids to children is a delicate task. Too often, mistakes can be made.

Like many American studies, a recent Canadian study has revealed the vast majority of these errors were avoidable. Root causes tended to fall into one or more of four categories: communication, policies/procedures, training, and equipment/environment. More specifically:

  • a lack of clear guidelines regarding infusion adjustment rate or how to wean the patient off the medication;
  • no standard opioid concentrations;
  • no existing policies concerning administration of opioids; and
  • no guidelines on properly monitoring and charting pain levels, level of consciousness, and/or vital signs.

The study was intended to identify problems and propose solutions. Although medical personnel’s level of fatigue and the number of patient transfers between units cannot be easily remedied, these factors were also mentioned as a concern.

Researchers suggested several ways to improve patient safety, hospital-wide, including:

  • system-wide monitoring;
  • proper documentation;
  • a reduction in paperwork errors;
  • establishment of clear policies, particularly as it relates to opioid administration; and
  • further education in how to handle acute pain management; and how opioids interact with other drugs.

Another Canadian study, published in 2012 in Pediatrics (2012;129:916-924), also focused on medication errors affecting children. The most common causes pinpointed patient transfers, programming more than one infusion at a time, being distracted while setting up an infusion, and not programming the infusion equipment properly.

If you have questions about your a prescription drug error, attorney Chris Mellino welcomes you to contact our Cleveland office for a free consultation. You may also download or request Chris’ free, easy-to-read guide to filing a claim in Ohio.