Author(s): Anderson BJ, Ellis JF
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Abstract Drug administration errors are common in infants. Although the infant population has a high exposure to drugs, there are few data concerning pharmacokinetics or pharmacodynamics, or the influence of paediatric diseases on these processes. Children remain therapeutic orphans. Formulations are often suitable only for adults; in addition, the lack of maturation of drug elimination processes, alteration of body composition and influence of size render the calculation of drug doses complex in infants. The commonest drug administration error in infants is one of dose, and the commonest hospital site for this error is the intensive care unit. Drug errors are a consequence of system error, and preventive strategies are possible through system analysis. The goal of a zero drug error rate should be aggressively sought, with systems in place that aim to eliminate the effects of inevitable human error. This involves review of the entire system from drug manufacture to drug administration. The nuclear industry, telecommunications and air traffic control services all practise error reduction policies with zero error as a clear goal, not by finding fault in the individual, but by identifying faults in the system and building into that system mechanisms for picking up faults before they occur. Such policies could be adapted to medicine using interventions both specific (the production of formulations which are for children only and clearly labelled, regular audit by pharmacists, legible prescriptions, standardised dose tables) and general (paediatric drug trials, education programmes, nonpunitive error reporting) to reduce the number of errors made in giving medication to infants.
This article was published in Paediatr Drugs
and referenced in Pediatrics & Therapeutics