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P19 Direct observational study of infusion errors associated with smart-pump technology in paediatric intensive care
  1. Moninne Howlett1,
  2. Erika Brereton1,
  3. Cormac Breatnach1,
  4. Brian Cleary2
  1. 1Children’s Health Ireland
  2. 2School of Pharmacy, Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland


Aims Processes for delivery of high-risk infusions in paediatric intensive care units (PICUs) are complex. Standard concentration infusions (SCIs), smart-pumps and electronic prescribing are recommended medication error reduction strategies.1 2 Implementation rates are low in Irish and UK hospitals.2 3 Since 2012, the PICU of an Irish tertiary paediatric hospital has been using a smart-pump SCI library, interfaced with electronic infusion orders (Philips ICCA®). The incidence of infusion errors is unknown. This study aims to determine the frequency, severity and distribution of smart-pump infusion errors and to identify contributory factors to the occurrence of infusion errors.

Methods Programmed infusions are directly observed at the bedside. Parameters are compared against medication orders and auto-populated infusion data. Identified deviations are categorised as either medication errors or discrepancies. Five opportunities for error (OEs) were identified: programming, administration, documentation, assignment, data transfer. Error rates (%) are calculated as: infusions with errors; and errors per OE. Pre-defined definitions, multi-disciplinary consensus and grading processes are employed.

Results A total of 1023 infusions for 175 patients were directly observed on 27 days between February and September 2017. 74% of patients were under 1 year, 32% under 1 month. The drug-library accommodated 96.5% of all infusions. Compliance with the drug-library was 98.9%. 55 infusions had ≥ 1 error (5.4%); a further 67 (6.3%) had ≥ 1 discrepancy. From a total of 4997 OEs, 72 errors (1.4%) and 107 discrepancies (2.1%) were observed. Documentation errors were most common; programming errors were rare (0.32% OE). Errors are minor, with just one requiring minimal intervention to prevent harm.

Conclusion This study has highlighted the benefits of smart-pumps and auto-populated infusion data in the PICU setting. Identified error rates are low compared to similar studies.4 The findings will contribute to the limited existing knowledge base on impact of these interventions on paediatric infusion administration errors.


  1. Institute for Safe Medication Practices, ISMP. 2018–2019 Targeted medication safety best practices for hospitals2018 [Available from: [Accessed: June 2019]

  2. Oskarsdottir T, Harris D, Sutherland A, et al. A national scoping survey of standard infusions in paediatric and neonatal intensive care units in the United Kingdom. J Pharm Pharmacol 2018;70:1324–1331.

  3. Howlett M, Curtin M, Doherty D, Gleeson P, Sheerin M, Breatnach C. Paediatric standardised concentration infusions – A national solution. Arch Dis Child. 2016;101:e2.

  4. Blandford A, Dykes PC, Franklin BD, et al. Intravenous Infusion Administration: A comparative study of practices and errors between the United States and England and their Implications for patient safety. Drug Saf. 2019;42:1157–1165

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