Administering opioids to children is a delicate task. Too often, mistakes
can be made.

Like many American studies, a recent Canadian study has revealed the vast
majority of these errors were avoidable. Root causes tended to fall into
one or more of four categories: communication, policies/procedures, training,
and equipment/environment. More specifically:

  • a lack of clear guidelines regarding infusion adjustment rate or how to
    wean the patient off the medication;
  • no standard opioid concentrations;
  • no existing policies concerning administration of opioids; and
  • no guidelines on properly monitoring and charting pain levels, level of
    consciousness, and/or vital signs.

The study was intended to identify problems and propose solutions. Although
medical personnel’s level of fatigue and the number of patient transfers
between units cannot be easily remedied, these factors were also mentioned
as a concern.

Researchers suggested several ways to improve patient safety, hospital-wide,
including:

  • system-wide monitoring;
  • proper documentation;
  • a reduction in paperwork errors;
  • establishment of clear policies, particularly as it relates to opioid administration; and
  • further education in how to handle acute pain management; and how opioids
    interact with other drugs.

Another Canadian study, published in 2012 in
Pediatrics (2012;129:916-924), also focused on medication errors affecting children.
The most common causes pinpointed patient transfers, programming more
than one infusion at a time, being distracted while setting up an infusion,
and not programming the infusion equipment properly.

If you have questions about your a
prescription drug error, attorney
Chris Mellino welcomes you to
contact our Cleveland office for a free consultation. You may also download or
request Chris’ free, easy-to-read guide to filing a claim in Ohio.