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Preprinted Order Forms Reduce Pediatric Drug Errors

Study finds low-cost intervention could cut drug errors by nearly 40%

TUESDAY, Dec. 6 (HealthDay News) -- Incorporating a structured, preprinted medication order form into emergency department practice can reduce the number of pediatric medication errors, according to the results of a study in the December issue of Pediatrics.

Eran Kozer, M.D., from Assaf Harofeh Medical Center in Israel, and colleagues randomized 18 days of emergency department care in a Toronto hospital to either blank order forms or a preprinted form that separated oral, intravenous and inhaled medication requests. Staff were further required to enter the dose, weight-adjusted dose, total daily dose and frequency for each medication ordered during the study period.

A total of 2,058 charts were available for the study period, which included 411 drug orders placed on the regular form and 376 on the new form. Drug errors dropped from 16.6% with the old form to 9.8% with the new form.

"Medication errors continue to be a major concern for patients and health care professionals," the authors write. "Improving patients' safety and reducing iatrogenic injuries therefore are major priorities. In the present study, we demonstrated that a low-cost intervention, the use of a preprinted structured order form, significantly reduces medication errors among pediatric patients in the emergency department."

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