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Jornal de Pediatria

Print version ISSN 0021-7557On-line version ISSN 1678-4782


LERNER, Renata Bandeira de Melo Escovedo et al. Medication errors in a neonatal intensive care unit. J. Pediatr. (Rio J.) [online]. 2008, vol.84, n.2, pp.166-170. ISSN 0021-7557.

OBJECTIVE: To determine the incidence and type of medical errors in a newborn intensive care unit and the relationship between the error and the patient's clinical status. METHODS: We reviewed the medical charts, during the first 7 days of hospitalization, of all high-risk newborn infants admitted for a period of 3 months. RESULTS: Seventy-three patients were admitted during the study period. Their mean birth weight was 2,140 g (640-5,020 g) and mean gestational age was 34 weeks (25-40 weeks). Of 73 medical charts analyzed, 40 (55%) had one or more errors. A total of 365 days of hospitalization was analyzed and 95 medical errors were detected (one error per 3.9 days of hospitalization). The most frequent error was associated with medication use (84.2%). Use of therapeutic procedures (drugs, phototherapy, etc.) without proper prescription in the patient's chart (commission error) accounted for 7.4% of the errors, and incidence of omission errors was 8.4%. Incidence of medical errors was significantly higher in newborn infants with lower gestational age. CONCLUSION: Incidence of errors in the care of high-risk newborn infants is elevated. Strategies to improve education of health professionals involved in the care and development of local culture by disseminating clear, accessible algorithms to guide behavior when errors occur must be encouraged.

Keywords : Medical errors; neonatal unit; newborn infant.

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