Medication errors by caregivers at home in neonates discharged from the neonatal intensive care unit

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Abstract

Objective

To determine the frequency of medication errors by caregivers at home in neonates discharged from the neonatal intensive care unit and to identify the associated risk factors.

Methods

A descriptive, cross-sectional study was conducted in the High Risk Newborn Follow-up Clinic of our institute, on a sample of 166 children, <3 months old. The medications prescribed (syrup preparations of vitamin D, multivitamins, calcium, iron and levetiracetam, tablet L-thyroxine and ursodeoxycholic acid and human milk fortifier powder) were noted from the discharge summary. The caregiver who usually administered the medicines to the child at home was asked the names of the medications, frequency of their administration and to show in a measuring cup/syringe/dropper the dose of the medication. The names, doses and frequency of the drugs as reported were matched against those actually prescribed in the discharge summary. Various risk factors probably associated with medication errors, were noted.

Results

The frequency of medication errors by caregivers in infants discharged from the neonatal intensive care unit was 66.3%. Dose administration error, that is, measurement of a dose different from what was prescribed was the most common error (54%). A prescription containing more than three drugs was found to have statistically significant association (OR 4.19, CI 1.59 to 11.07, p=0.00).

Conclusion

Medication errors by caregivers in infants less than 3 months of age are very common, dose administration error being the most common type. A prescription of more than three drugs increases the odds of an error.

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