7-May-13 8:00 AM  CST

New Study Reminds Us That Errors Can Happen at Home

Pharmacy technicians know the importance of reducing and eliminating medication errors, but technicians cannot monitor drug errors in the home.  A new study observed 72 medication mistakes in homes where 92 children who have cancer were cared for from November 2007 and April 2011.  The study concluded that many children taking cancer medications were venerable to medication errors and found that between 10% and 40% of oral chemotherapy treatments were missed according to Dr. Kathleen Walsh, lead author of the study from the University Of Massachusetts School Of Medicine in Worcester. 


In one of the study’s cases, parents were sprinkling chemo medication on their ill child’s food in lieu of giving their child the chemotherapy medication as directed.  In addition, 72 medication errors were recorded along with four incidents that injured the sick children.  Forty of the mistakes were harmful and could cause injury to the patient. 


Dr. Walsh recently commented on the study in an article for Reuters.  “There are a number of medications we use everyday that can be dangerous if we don’t use them properly,” said Walsh.  Doctors who observed the medication errors made by parents concluded that improved communication between families and physicians could have aided in over a third in the mistakes made by the cancer patient’s parents. 


Pharmacy technicians can encourage parents to follow the advice of their children’s doctor and also stress the importance of giving medication only as directed by the prescribing doctor and pharmacist. 


1.  Walsh, Kathleen, Dr.  “Medication Errors in the Home:  A Multisite Study of Children With Cancer.”  Pediatrics.  Web.  29 Apr 2013. 


2.  Seaman, Andrew.  “Medication Errors Also Happen at Home.”  Reuters.  Web.  3 May 2013.  

For additional information on this article, please contact:
Jennifer S. O'Reilly
Source: NPTAnews  

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