Although serious medication errors are uncommon, their effects can be devastating for patients and their loved ones. The authors of this study in the journal Patient Safety searched the Pennsylvania Patient Safety Reporting System (PA-PSRS) for reports of serious medication errors in the emergency department from 1 January 2011 to 31 December 2020. They identified trends in the data, looking at patient sex, patient age, event harm score, event day of the week and event time of day.
The authors found that:
- error reports more often specified that the patient was female.
- events were significantly more likely to happen over the weekend.
- most errors occurred at the prescribing stage.
- the most common error type was a wrong dose.
They conclude that a number of patient safety strategies could reduce the risk of medication errors in the emergency department, including:
- stocking epinephrine autoinjectors.
- using clinical decision support at the ordering/prescribing stage of the process.
- adding an emergency medicine pharmacist to interdisciplinary emergency medicine teams.