How Can Information Technology Improve Patient Safety and Reduce Medication Errors in Children's Health Care? | Clinical Pharmacy and Pharmacology | JAMA Pediatrics | JAMA Network
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September 2001

How Can Information Technology Improve Patient Safety and Reduce Medication Errors in Children's Health Care?

Author Affiliations

From the Division of General Internal Medicine, Department of Medicine, Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Boston, Mass (Drs Kaushal and Bates); and the School of Pharmacy, Auburn University, Auburn, Ala (Dr Barker).

Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 2001;155(9):1002-1007. doi:10.1001/archpedi.155.9.1002

Background  Medication errors are common, costly, and injurious to patients.

Objective  To review the role of information technology in decreasing pediatric medication errors in both inpatient and outpatient settings.

Design  We performed a literature review of current information technology interventions.

Results  Several types of information technology will likely reduce the frequency of medication errors, although insufficient data exists for many technologies, and most available data come from adult settings. Computerized physician order entry with decision support substantially decreases the frequency of serious inpatient medication errors in adults. Certain other inpatient information technologies may be beneficial even though less evidence is currently available. These include computerized medication administration records, robots, automated pharmacy systems, bar coding, "smart" intravenous devices, and computerized discharge prescriptions and instructions. In the outpatient setting, where adherence is especially important, personalized Web pages and World Wide Web–based information have substantial potential.

Conclusions  Medication errors are an important problem in pediatrics. Information technology interventions have great potential for reducing the frequency of errors. The magnitude of benefits may be even greater in pediatrics than in adult medicine because of the need for weight-based dosing. Further development, application, evaluation, and dissemination of pediatric-specific information technology interventions are essential.