High-alert medications in a French paediatric university hospital

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Rationale, aims and objectivesHigh-alert medications (HAMs) are medications that are associated with a high risk of serious harm if used improperly. The objective of this study was to identify paediatric HAM used in our institution and to identify safety measures for their use.MethodsThe list of HAM and the list of safety measures that were introduced in our department were based on (1) a literature search; (2) a survey of health care professionals in our department including doctors, head nurses, nurses and pharmacists; and (3) the drug steering committee.ResultsWe found four lists of HAM based on a literature search, including 27 classes of pharmaceutical agents, and 63 common drug names. The response rate of the survey was 20.7% (230 of 1113). Some of the HAMs included in our list were not identified by the literature search. These included neuroleptic drugs, anti-malarial agents, antiviral agents, anti-retroviral agents and intravenous acetaminophen. The drug steering committee selected 17 HAM and highlighted 53 safety measures involving seven broad aspects of pharmacological management.ConclusionsThis project was part of the new safety strategies developed in a paediatric hospital. We set out to make a list of HAM relevant to paediatrics with additional safety measures to prevent medication errors associated and a ‘joker’ system. The various safety measures, such as double-checking of HAM prescriptions, should be reviewed during the year following their implementation. This list, which was developed in our hospital specifically for use in paediatrics, can be adapted for use in other paediatric departments.

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