A comparison of automated infusion device technology to prevent medication errors in pediatric and adult intensive care unit patients

Steven Hennings, Andrew Romero, Brian L. Erstad, Hillary Franke, Andreas A. Theodorou

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations

Abstract

Objective: To compare possible differences in the proportion of medication errors associated with high-risk medications that were avoided by the use of automated infusion device (AID) technology in pediatric and adult intensive care unit (ICU) patients. A secondary purpose was to investigate the number of serious adverse drug events (ADEs) identified by root-cause analyses (RCA).Method: The study included pediatric and adult patients receiving high-risk medications by continuous infusion in an academic medical center with mixed medical-surgical ICUs. A retrospective evaluation of 1 year's data collected prospectively in an AID database was used to compare the proportion of medication errors avoided based on reprogramming events (2.5 times limit as a low threshold) and overrides (10 times limit as high). Information obtained from RCAs was used to compare the proportion of serious ADEs that occurred during the 5-year periods before and after AID implementation.Results: The pediatric population was 1.68 times (95% confidence interval [CI], 1.18 to 2.38) more likely to require a reprogramming event than the adult acute care population for all high-risk medications combined. Significantly more reprogramming events occurred in the pediatric patients with potassium (relative risk [RR], 2.77; 95% CI, 1.15 to 6.68) and insulin (RR, 2.73; 95% CI, 1.15 to 6.45) infusions. Additionally, there were more overrides in the pediatric compared to the adult population for the high-risk medications (RR, 1.82; 95% CI, 1.32 to 2.53). The number of serious adverse or sentinel events as identified in RCAs decreased from six before (four deemed preventable by AID technology) to three (zero preventable) after AID implementation.Conclusions: This study demonstrates that AID technology when properly used leads to reductions in medication errors and possibly serious ADEs in critically ill patients receiving high-risk medications. The technology appears to be particularly beneficial in pediatric patients with weight-based dosing strategies. However, the potential for clinicians to override the alerts remains a concern.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)464-471
Number of pages8
JournalHospital Pharmacy
Volume45
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 1 2010

Keywords

  • Infusion pumps
  • Intensive care units
  • Medication error
  • Pediatrics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacy
  • Pharmacology
  • Pharmacology (medical)

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