PloS one 2017 10 1212(10) e0186210 doi 10.1371/journal.pone.0186210
Recent National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) guidelines aim to improve intravenous (IV) fluid prescribing for children, but existing evidence about how and why fluid prescribing errors occur is limited. Studying this can lead to more effective implementation, through education and systems design.
Identify types of IV fluid prescribing errors reported in practiceAnalyse factors that contribute to errorsProvide guidance to educators and those responsible for designing systems.
Mixed methods observational study which analysed critical incident reports relating to IV fluid prescribing errors in children aged 0-16, occurring between 2011 and 2015 in UK secondary care. We quantified characteristics and types of errors, then qualitatively analysed narrative descriptions, identifying underlying contributing factors.
In the 40 incidents analysed, principal types of errors were incorrect rate of fluids, inappropriate choice of solution, and incorrect completion of prescription charts. Prescribers had to negotiate complex patients, interactions with other practitioners and teams, and challenging work environments; errors resulted from these inter-related contributing factors.
This study highlights the diverse range and complex nature of IV fluid prescribing errors reported in practice. While these findings have the inherent limitations of critical incident reports, they point to areas of potential improvement in education and systems design. Practising prescribing in context, inducting doctors within the many specialties who contribute to care of children, and educating them in joint working with nurses and pharmacists could help reduce errors.