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Errors in Hospital Analgesia Prescriptions Nearly 3 in 1,000

Prescription error rate more than double in pediatric population

WEDNESDAY, Feb. 9 (HealthDay News) -- Analgesic drug errors in hospitals occur at a rate of almost three per 1,000 prescriptions, and more than twice that among pediatric patients, according to a study published in the January issue of the Journal of Pain.

Howard S. Smith, M.D., and Timothy S. Lesar, Pharm.D., of Albany Medical Center in New York, investigated prescription error rates in a teaching hospital. They studied a database of 714,290 orders for analgesics and identified 2,044 pharmacist-detected and prevented prescribing errors. They then characterized each error according to its contributing cause.

The researchers found an overall error rate of 2.87 per 1,000 analgesic orders. Prescriptions for pediatric patients had an error rate more than twice that for adults. Although most errors were linked to commonly prescribed drugs, less-frequently prescribed medications garnered a higher rate of errors. Forty percent of the errors were traced to drugs that were available for several routes of administration, came in different forms (such as long-acting or immediate-release), had sound-alike drug names, and were prescribed in uncommon doses or around the clock.

"Computerized prescriber order-entry systems have been promoted as one solution to the problem of prescribing errors," the authors write. "Our experiences strongly support the application of multifaceted safety engineering and design practices into pharmaceutical product development, and the inclusion of safety considerations in product naming and labeling."

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