Standard concentrations of high-alert drug infusions across paediatric acute care
Irwin, D., Vaillancourt, R., Dalgleish D., Thomas, M., Grenier, S., Wong, E., Wright, M., Sears, M., Doherty, D., & Gaboury, I. (May 2008). Paediatric Child Health, 13:5. 371–376.
To reduce the risk of medication errors in paediatric patients, the Canadian Council on Health Services Accreditation endorsed the standardization and limiting of drug concentrations available within an organization.
Methods: Standard concentrations (SCs) were implemented in the emergency department, operating room and paediatric intensive care unit at the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario in Ottawa, Ontario. The change in practice involved addressing concerns raised during stakeholder consultations, developing a computer program, and educating and testing staff in the new method. The software for SC selection and infusion rate calculation featured redundant inputs, a ‘deviation’ column comparing the prescribed and infused doses, and a printout of patient information that also facilitated dose verification back-calculation.
Results: The major barrier to acceptance of SCs was possible fluid overload in lower weight patients. Thus, infusions received by 48 successive infants in the paediatric intensive care unit were compared with theoretical SC infusions. Volumes were not significantly increased, and there was no trend toward proportionally larger volumes in lower weight patients. Medication error reporting was very low before implementation, and SC errors remained low; new online reporting led to higher reporting of other errors after implementation. A survey indicated excellent staff acceptance and beliefs that patient safety and continuity of care were improved.
Interpretation: SCs were successfully instituted with computer support, in lieu of ‘smart pumps,’ across multiple critical care units in a paediatric institution. The initial program is being expanded to 40 continuous infusion drugs, plus paediatric advanced life support bolus medications.