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Med Errors Common Among Pediatric Cancer Outpatients

MONDAY, April 29 (HealthDay News) -- Among pediatric cancer patients who receive medications at home, errors are common, with a rate of 3.6 errors with injury per 100 patients, according to a study published online April 29 in Pediatrics.

Kathleen E. Walsh, M.D., from the University of Massachusetts School of Medicine in Worcester, and colleagues conducted a prospective observational study at three pediatric oncology clinics involving patients undergoing chemotherapy and their parents. Trained nurses observed medication administration at home visits and physicians judged whether an error had been made and its severity.

The researchers found that there were 72 medication errors among 242 observed medication administrations in the homes of 92 patients. Significant patient injury occurred in four of these errors. Forty errors had potential for injury, including two potentially life-threatening errors, 13 potentially serious, and 25 potentially significant. The weighted overall error rate was 70.2 errors per 100 patients; the rate of errors with injury was 3.6 per 100 patients; and the rate of errors with potential for injury was 36.3 per 100 patients. Errors more often involved non-chemotherapy than chemotherapy medications.

"In this multisite study of medication errors in the homes of children with cancer, we found that errors were common, with a rate of 3.6 injuries due to medication error per 100 patients," the authors write.

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