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Table 2 Risk factors for medication errors in the intensive care unit

From: Clinical review: Medication errors in critical care

Factors Specific risk factors
Patient Severity of illness
     Strongest predictor of ADE [25,34]
     ICU patients more likely to experience ADE than patients in other units [35]
  Extreme of ages
     Increased susceptibility to ADEs [2,78]
  Prolonged hospitalization
     Increased exposure and susceptibility to ADEs [2,78]
  Sedation
     Patients unable to participate in care and defend themselves against errors [9]
Medications Types of medications
     Frequent use of boluses and infusions [9]
     Weight-based infusions derived from estimated weights or unreliable determinations [79]
     Mathematical calculations required for medication dosages [9]
     Programming of infusion pumps [44]
  Number of medications
     Twice as many medications prescribed as for patients in other units [35]
     Increased probability of medication error and medication interactions [35]
  Number of interventions
     Increased risk of complications [80]
ICU environment Complex environment
     Difficult working conditions make errors more probable [81]
     High stress [20]
     High turnover of patients and providers [82,83]
  Emergency admissions
     Risk of an adverse event increases by approximately 6% per day [25,84]
  Multiple care providers
     Challenges the integration of different care plans [83]
  1. ADE, adverse drug event; ICU, intensive care unit.