Background: Many treatment errors in neonatal intensive care units are caused by the need to carry out a sequence of calculations to determine the dose and dilution of the drugs used.
Objectives: To help in this task, we designed a spreadsheet (Neodosis) that helps clinicians and nurses to calculate the doses and standardize the dilutions of some of the drugs most commonly used in resuscitation and neonatal intensive care units. The aim of this study was to verify the usefulness and reliability of this software package.
Methods: A randomized, cross-over, controlled trial was conducted through simulated clinical cases in which the number of errors in the prescription data and the amount of time spent in making calculations, with and without the program, were evaluated. Fifty-four tests were performed by pediatricians, third- and fourth-year pediatric residents, and nurses.
Results: Without computer support, all three groups made errors (residents, pediatricians and nurses in descending order). When Neodosis was used, all the medical staff made significantly fewer errors. The greatest reduction was found in errors made by pediatric residents: minor errors decreased from 16 % to 2 % and major errors from 1.6 % to zero. When using the spreadsheet, the time spent by all groups in making the calculations was reduced by between one-third and one-half.
Conclusions: The tests performed with simulated clinical cases revealed that the number of errors made by the healthcare personnel who participated in this study was not inconsiderable. The use of Neodosis helped physicians and nurses to make markedly fewer errors and also saved them time.