Friday, February 17, 2006


Friday February 17, 2006
38,000 medication errors in 4 years - only in ICUs !!

The United States Pharmacopeia (
USP)* announced the largest national data set of Intensive Care Unit (ICU) medication errors. These causes are identified in the 6th annual MEDMARX® Data Report. MEDMARX, operated by USP, is an anonymous, internet-accessible program used by hospitals and related institutions nationwide to report, track, and analyze medication errors. Since its inception in 1998, MEDMARX has received more than one million reports of medication errors from more than 850 healthcare facilities across the U.S. From 2000-2004, the number of reported errors that occurred in ICUs was 38,371. Reasons include orders that were incomplete or incorrect, illegible handwriting, using abbreviations that were misinterpreted, improper use of IV pumps and a lack of familiarity with some drug information. The big 3 culprits are:

1. 24.4% errors originated during the prescribing.
2. 24% during transcribing of the order.
3. 11% are due to incorrect programming of IV pumps.

It is reported that mix-ups in the IV tubing during pump set-up or mix-ups in programming the infusion rates for each drug have resulted in serious harm.

* USP is a self-sustaining nonprofit, independent, science-based public health organization. USP is the official public standards-setting authority for all prescription and over-the-counter medicines, dietary supplements, and other healthcare products manufactured and sold in the United States.

Reference: Click to get abstract/article
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