BACKGROUND: Children with chronic conditions often have complex medication regimens, usually administered at home by their parents.
OBJECTIVE: To describe the types of medication errors in the homes of children with chronic conditions.
METHODS: Our home visit methods include direct observation of administration, medication review and prescription dose checking. Parents of children with sickle cell disease and seizure disorders taking daily medications were recruited from paediatric subspecialty clinics from November 2007 to April 2009. Potential errors were reviewed by two physicians who made judgments about whether an error had occurred or not, and its severity.
RESULTS: On 52 home visits, the authors reviewed 280 medications and found 61 medication errors (95% CI 46 to 123), including 31 with a potential to injure the child and 9 which did injure the child. Injuries often occurred when parents failed to fill prescriptions or to change doses due to communication problems, leading to further testing or continued pain, inflammation, seizures, vitamin deficiencies or other injuries. Errors not previously reported in the literature included communication failures between two parents at home leading to administration errors and difficulty preparing the medication for administration. 95% of parents not using support tools (eg, alarms, reminders) for medication use at home had an error compared to 44% of those using supports (chi(2)=13.9, p=0.0002).
CONCLUSIONS: Home visits detected previously undescribed types of outpatient errors which were common among children with sickle cell disease and seizure disorders. These should be targeted in future intervention development.
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/kathleenwalsh/16/