Publication Abstract

Authors: McPhillips HA, Stille CJ, Smith D, Hecht J, Pearson J, Stull J, Debellis K, Andrade S, Miller M, Kaushal R, Gurwitz J, Davis RL

Title: Potential medication dosing errors in outpatient pediatrics.

Journal: J Pediatr 147(6):761-7

Date: 2005 Dec

Abstract: OBJECTIVE: To determine the prevalence of potential dosing errors of medication dispensed to children for 22 common medications. STUDY DESIGN: Using automated pharmacy data from 3 health maintenance organizations (HMOs), we randomly selected up to 120 children with a new dispensing prescription for each drug of interest, giving 1933 study subjects. Errors were defined as potential overdoses or potential underdoses. Error rate in 2 HMOs that use paper prescriptions was compared with 1 HMO that uses an electronic prescription writer. RESULTS: Approximately 15% of children were dispensed a medication with a potential dosing error: 8% were potential overdoses and 7% were potential underdoses. Among children weighing <35 kg, only 67% of doses were dispensed within recommended dosing ranges, and more than 1% were dispensed at more than twice the recommended maximum dose. Analgesics were most likely to be potentially overdosed (15%), whereas antiepileptics were most likely potentially underdosed (20%). Potential error rates were not lower at the site with an electronic prescription writer. CONCLUSIONS: Potential medication dosing errors occur frequently in outpatient pediatrics. Studies on the clinical impact of these potential errors and effective error prevention strategies are needed.