Pediatric Dose Calculation Issues and the Need for Human Factors–Informed Preventative Technology Optimizations
Keywords:medication errors, pediatrics, human factors, health information technology
Background: Dose calculation errors are one of the most common types of medication errors impacting children and they can result in significant harm. Technology-based solutions, such as computerized provider order entry, can effectively reduce dose calculation issues; however, these technologies are not always optimized, resulting in potential benefits not being fully realized.
Methods: We analyzed pediatric dose-related patient safety event reports submitted to the Pennsylvania Patient Safety Reporting System using a task-analytic approach that focused on information being used in the dose calculation, calculation errors during ordering, and errors during dose preparation or administration. From these reports, we identified whether the patient was impacted by the error, the type of medication involved, and whether a technology optimization could have mitigated the issue.
Results: Of the 356 reports reviewed, 326 (91.6%) met the criteria for a dose calculation issue. The 326 reports meeting criteria had the following dose calculation issue types: wrong information used in the calculation (49 of 326, 15.0%), incorrect calculation during ordering (97 of 326, 29.8%), and calculated dose was not properly used or incorrect calculation during preparation/administration (180 of 326, 55.2%). Most of these dose calculation issues impacted the patient (219 of 326, 67.2%). Analysis of these issues by patient age group and drug class also revealed interesting patterns. Technology optimizations potentially could have addressed 81.6% of the dose calculation issues identified.
Conclusion: While many healthcare facilities have adopted health information technology and other devices to support the medication process, these technologies are not always optimized to address dose calculation issues. Human factors–informed recommendations, a safety checklist, and test cases for optimizing technology are provided in the context of these findings.
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