How can information technology improve patient safety and reduce medication errors in children's health care?

Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 2001 Sep;155(9):1002-7. 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.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Child Health Services / trends*
  • Decision Support Systems, Clinical* / trends*
  • Forecasting
  • Hospital Information Systems / trends*
  • Humans
  • Medical Records Systems, Computerized / trends*
  • Medication Errors / prevention & control*
  • Safety Management*
  • Technology Assessment, Biomedical