Patient safety

Selected bibliography supporting the ten essential objectives for safe surgery

5. The team will avoid inducing any allergic or adverse drug reaction known to be a significant risk for the patient.

Baker, G. R., P. G. Norton, et al. (2004). "The Canadian Adverse Events Study: the incidence of adverse events among hospital patients in Canada." CMAJ Canadian Medical Association Journal 170(11): 1678-86.

  • BACKGROUND: Research into adverse events (AEs) has highlighted the need to improve patient safety. AEs are unintended injuries or complications resulting in death, disability or prolonged hospital stay that arise from health care management. We estimated the incidence of AEs among patients in Canadian acute care hospitals.
  • METHODS: We randomly selected 1 teaching, 1 large community and 2 small community hospitals in each of 5 provinces (British Columbia, Alberta, Ontario, Quebec and Nova Scotia) and reviewed a random sample of charts for nonpsychiatric, nonobstetric adult patients in each hospital for the fiscal year 2000. Trained reviewers screened all eligible charts, and physicians reviewed the positively screened charts to identify AEs and determine their preventability.
  • RESULTS: At least 1 screening criterion was identified in 1527 (40.8%) of 3745 charts. The physician reviewers identified AEs in 255 of the charts. After adjustment for the sampling strategy, the AE rate was 7.5 per 100 hospital admissions (95% confidence interval [CI] 5.7- 9.3). Among the patients with AEs, events judged to be preventable occurred in 36.9% (95% CI 32.0%-41.8%) and death in 20.8% (95% CI 7.8%-33.8%). Physician reviewers estimated that 1521 additional hospital days were associated with AEs. Although men and women experienced equal rates of AEs, patients who had AEs were significantly older than those who did not (mean age [and standard deviation] 64.9 [16.7] v. 62.0 [18.4] years; p = 0.016).
  • INTERPRETATION: The overall incidence rate of AEs of 7.5% in our study suggests that, of the almost 2.5 million annual hospital admissions in Canada similar to the type studied, about 185 000 are associated with an AE and close to 70 000 of these are potentially preventable.

Bowdle, T. A. (2003). "Drug administration errors from the ASA Closed Claims Project." ASA Newsletter 67: 11-3.

Jensen, L. S., A. F. Merry, et al. (2004). "Evidence-based strategies for preventing drug administration errors during anaesthesia." Anaesthesia 59(5): 493-504.

  • We developed evidence-based recommendations for the minimisation of errors in intravenous drug administration in anaesthesia from a systematic review of the literature that identified 98 relevant references (14 with experimental designs or incident reports and 19 with reports of cases or case series). We validated the recommendations using reports of drug errors collected in a previous study. One general and five specific strong recommendations were generated: systematic countermeasures should be used to decrease the number of drug administration errors in anaesthesia; the label on any drug ampoule or syringe should be read carefully before a drug is drawn up or injected; the legibility and contents of labels on ampoules and syringes should be optimised according to agreed standards; syringes should (almost) always be labelled; formal organisation of drug drawers and workspaces should be used; labels should be checked with a second person or a device before a drug is drawn up or administered. [References: 112]

Webster, C. S., A. F. Merry, et al. (2001). "The frequency and nature of drug administration error during anaesthesia." Anaesth Intensive Care 29(5): 494-500.

  • We aimed to establish the frequency and nature of drug administration error in anaesthesia (a significant subset of error in medicine) at two hospitals. Anaesthetists were asked to return a study form anonymouslyfor every anaesthetic, indicating whether or not a drug administration error or pre-error (defined as any incident with potential to become an error) had occurred. Further details were sought if the response was affirmative. From 10,806 anaesthetics, 7794 study forms were returned, representing response rates of 80% from Hospital A and 57% from Hospital B (72% overall). The frequency (95% confidence intervals) of drug administration error; of any type, per anaesthetic was 0.0075 (0.006 to 0.009), of i.v. bolus errors was 0.005 (0.0035 to 0.006) and of pre-errors was 0.004 (0.003 to 0.005), with no significant difference between hospitals. Overall, one drug administration error was reported for every 133 anaesthetics. The two largest individual categories of error involved incorrect doses (20%) and substitutions (20%) with i.v. boluses of drug. Of the i.v. bolus substitutions, 69% occurred between different pharmacological classes. One patient was aware while under muscle relaxation, and two required prolonged ventilation. In addition, 47 transient physiological effects were reported, of which five required intervention. We conclude that drug administration error during anaesthesia is considerably more frequent than previously reported.

Wheeler, S. J. and D. W. Wheeler (2005). "Medication errors in anaesthesia and critical care." Anaesthesia 60(3): 257-73.

  • There is an increasing recognition that medication errors are causing a substantial global public health problem, as many result in harm to patients and increased costs to health providers. However, study of medication error is hampered by difficulty with definitions, research methods and study populations. Few doctors are as involved in the process of prescribing, selecting, preparing and giving drugs as anaesthetists, whether their practice is based in the operating theatre, critical care or pain management. Anaesthesia is now safe and routine, yet anaesthetists are not immune from making medication errors and the consequences of their mistakes may be more serious than those of doctors in other specialties. Steps are being taken to determine the extent of the problem of medication error in anaesthesia. New technology, theories of human error and lessons learnt from the nuclear, petrochemical and aviation industries are being used to tackle the problem.