Two new studies from the Johns Hopkins Childrens Center show that computerizing ordering of chemotherapy and other types of intravenous drug infusions for children greatly reduces the risk of potentially dangerous medical errors.
An online infusion calculator and a computerized drug ordering system, developed under the leadership of Christoph Lehmann, M.D., director of clinical information technology at the Childrens Center, have been in use there for about three years, but this is the first time that researchers have measured their impact on medication errors.
Children in general are three times more likely than adults to be victims of medication errors because both ordering and dosing are more complex in children than adults, according to Lehmann. In children, dosing is based on calculations factoring in age, height and weight, and miscalculations and rounding errors could cause life-threatening harm. Dosing errors also cause more ill effects in children because still-developing bodies absorb, metabolize and excrete drugs at different rates than adults and thus have lower tolerance for medication overdose. Children undergoing treatment for cancer are at even greater risk because the general dangers of potent chemicals are compounded by the dosing challenges.
Katerina Pesheva | EurekAlert!
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