Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Chemotherapy errors rare, but have potential for serious consequences


About one out of 30 chemotherapy orders at three ambulatory infusion clinics had errors, and one in 50 orders had a serious error, according to a study appearing in the December 1, 2005 issue of CANCER, a peer-reviewed journal of the American Cancer Society. The study, performed at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, found most but not all errors were detected before they reached the patient. None was life-threatening or caused patient harm. Still, an accompanying editorial says the study underscores the need to implement safer controls of drug ordering and dispensing at chemotherapy infusion clinics.

Medication errors in hospitals are a stark reminder of the potential harm that can occur when patients are admitted to the hospital. While most medications are well tolerated, a few classes are toxic and require complex dosing regimens, such as those used in chemotherapy. Even a low error rate from these medications could potentially lead to significant harm, including death.

Aside from a few case reports in journals and popular media, little research has investigated the error rate of chemotherapy orders at outpatient clinics or hospitals. Some individual institutions that have been affected by these reported errors, such as the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute (a member of the Dana-Farber/Harvard Cancer Center, a National Cancer Institute-designated comprehensive cancer center), have made extensive changes to prevent such errors, such as computerization of the medication ordering system.

Led by Tejal K. Gandhi, M.D., M.P.H. and Sylvia B. Bartel, R.Ph., M.H.P., researchers from the Brigham and Women’s Hospital, the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, and the Harvard School of Public Health reviewed over 10,100 medication orders from one pediatric and two adult ambulatory clinics, which used either a paper or computerized medication ordering system.

The researchers used a strict definition of error and counted any mistake in the medication process, including ordering, dispensing, transcribing, administering, and monitoring.

The review of orders demonstrated an overall medication error rate of three percent and a serious error rate of two percent, less than the five percent rate on all orders identified in previous studies. Categorized according to the severity of the error, 82 percent of the errors in adults and 60 percent in children had the potential to cause an adverse drug event (ADE) had they reached a patient. Of these, approximately 33 percent could have caused serious harm. Nearly half were intercepted by existing systemic checks before they reached the patient and none actually caused an ADE.

In the adult clinics, which used a computerized ordering system, the most frequent errors were due to omission of dosages and orders not being discontinued. In the pediatric clinic, which used a paper-based ordering system, the most frequent errors were due to orders not being discontinued and incorrect dosages.

David Greenberg | EurekAlert!
Further information:

More articles from Studies and Analyses:

nachricht Rutgers-led innovation could spur faster, cheaper, nano-based manufacturing
14.02.2018 | Rutgers University

nachricht New study from the University of Halle: How climate change alters plant growth
12.01.2018 | Martin-Luther-Universität Halle-Wittenberg

All articles from Studies and Analyses >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Mars' oceans formed early, possibly aided by massive volcanic eruptions

Oceans formed before Tharsis and evolved together, shaping climate history of Mars

A new scenario seeking to explain how Mars' putative oceans came and went over the last 4 billion years implies that the oceans formed several hundred million...

Im Focus: Tiny implants for cells are functional in vivo

For the first time, an interdisciplinary team from the University of Basel has succeeded in integrating artificial organelles into the cells of live zebrafish embryos. This innovative approach using artificial organelles as cellular implants offers new potential in treating a range of diseases, as the authors report in an article published in Nature Communications.

In the cells of higher organisms, organelles such as the nucleus or mitochondria perform a range of complex functions necessary for life. In the networks of...

Im Focus: Locomotion control with photopigments

Researchers from Göttingen University discover additional function of opsins

Animal photoreceptors capture light with photopigments. Researchers from the University of Göttingen have now discovered that these photopigments fulfill an...

Im Focus: Surveying the Arctic: Tracking down carbon particles

Researchers embark on aerial campaign over Northeast Greenland

On 15 March, the AWI research aeroplane Polar 5 will depart for Greenland. Concentrating on the furthest northeast region of the island, an international team...

Im Focus: Unique Insights into the Antarctic Ice Shelf System

Data collected on ocean-ice interactions in the little-researched regions of the far south

The world’s second-largest ice shelf was the destination for a Polarstern expedition that ended in Punta Arenas, Chile on 14th March 2018. Oceanographers from...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Industry & Economy
Event News

Virtual reality conference comes to Reutlingen

19.03.2018 | Event News

Ultrafast Wireless and Chip Design at the DATE Conference in Dresden

16.03.2018 | Event News

International Tinnitus Conference of the Tinnitus Research Initiative in Regensburg

13.03.2018 | Event News

Latest News

Physicists made crystal lattice from polaritons

20.03.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Mars' oceans formed early, possibly aided by massive volcanic eruptions

20.03.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Thawing permafrost produces more methane than expected

20.03.2018 | Earth Sciences

Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>