‘Many cancer patients given wrong chemotherapy drug doses’

January 2nd, 2009 - 3:50 pm ICT by IANS  

University of MassachusettsWashington, Jan 2 (IANS) Many cancer patients taking chemotherapy drugs in outpatient clinics or at home were given the wrong dose or experienced other mistakes involving their medications, according to a new study. “As cancer care continues to shift from the hospital to the outpatient setting, the complexity of care is increasing, as is the potential for medication errors, particularly in the outpatient and home settings,” said Kathleen E. Walsh, assistant professor of paediatrics at the University of Massachusetts Medical School.

An analysis of data on nearly 1,300 patient visits at three adult oncology outpatient clinics and 117 visits at one paediatric facility between Sep 1, 2005 and May 31, 2006 showed that errors in medication were more common than previously reported by oncology patients.

Of the 90 medication errors involving adults, 55 had the potential to harm the patient and 11 did cause harm. The errors included administration of incorrect medication doses due to confusion.

About 40 percent of the 22 medication errors in children had the potential to cause harm and four children were harmed. More than 70 percent of the errors in children occurred at home.

Examples of paediatric errors included parents giving the wrong dose or the wrong number of doses per day of medicines because of a caregiver’s confusion about instructions, said a Massachusetts release.

“Requiring that medication orders be written on the day of administration, following review of lab results, may be a simple strategy for preventing errors among adults, while most of the errors involving children may have been avoided by better communication and support for parents of children who use chemotherapy medications at home,” said Walsh.

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