Friday, January 12, 2007

New pediatric emergency kits reduce possibility of dosage error

Members of the code 8 committee have devised a new process to make it safer to give medications in pediatric emergencies. The newly revised pediatric emergency kits will improve patient safety during pediatric code situations, Backus staff members say.

Eric Arlia, Director of Pharmacy Services at Backus, said previously in a pediatric emergency, medications such as dopamine, dobutamine, and lidocaine would need to be mixed specifically for each code situation. Dosages were calculated differently for patients of different sizes and ages, which could potentially result in a calculation and mixing error.

In the new system, the medications are mixed the same way no matter what the size of the child. The drugs (mentioned above), as well as epinephrine and norepinephrine, are pre-mixed and administered according to an infusion rate chart. There are no calculations or mixing needed, providing a faster way to administer medications with less chance of error.

Debbie Dolan, RN, Clinical Director of A-3, where the majority of pediatric patients are admitted, said not having to calculate doses in the midst of an emergency will certainly help pediatric patient safety.

“This is certainly going to help ensure that our pediatric patients receive the right medication, at the right dose at the right time,” she said.

Peter Shea, MD, Medical Director at Backus, agrees.

“The ability to provide a more precise, accurate dosage will greatly increase patient safety in these situations,” he said.

The revised emergency kits are in compliance with Joint Commission standards. However, the standard requirements did not specifically explain how to design such a system, which is where the committee’s ingenuity proved useful.

Mr. Arlia explained that pediatric emergencies can be very tense, and he believes the new emergency kits will help make these situations easier.

“This new system will help both physicians ,patients and staff by allowing medications to be dispensed faster and with less chance for error,” he said.

Medication safety is a major part of the commission's patient safety goals. Backus will receive an accreditation visit later this year. A mock survey will be held Feb. 6-8. Anyone with any questions about patient safety goals, or suggestions to help Backus improve patient safety, can call Mary Bylone, Assistant Vice President of Patient Care Services and Patient Safety Officer, at ext. 2771, or Joe Hughes, Director of Quality Improvement, at ext. 2345.


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