Objective: We aimed to evaluate the effect of a comprehensive preventive educational strategy on the number and type of drug errors in the prescription process in a regional neonatal intensive care unit (NICU).
Design: Medication errors during prescription were recorded in a 41 bed, level III regional neonatal unit by a pharmacist. Data were retrieved from handwritten doctor's orders and introduced at bedsite into an e-database. Each prescription, not related to enteral and parenteral nutrition and blood products, was evaluated for dosage, units, route and dosing interval. The study was developed in three phases: pilot phase to know the baseline drug error rate and estimate sample size; pre-intervention (4182 drug orders reviewed); and post-intervention seven months after a comprehensive preventive educational intervention consisting sessions about drug errors and study's aims was implemented.
Results: After the preventive educational intervention was implemented, the prescription error rate and the percentage of registers with one or more incident decreased significantly from 20.7 to 3% (p < 0.001) and from 19.2 to 2.9% (p < 0.001), respectively. Simultaneously, an improvement in correct identification of the prescribing physician was registered (from 1.3 to 78.2%). The rest of items analysed were similar in both periods.
Conclusion: The implementation of a structured preventive educational intervention for health professionals in a regional NICU reduced the medication error rate, possibly by the dissemination of a patient safety culture.