PSA Advisories

Medication Errors in Outpatient Hematology and Oncology Clinics

Oncology care is increasingly provided in outpatient settings because of its increased patient convenience and decreased cost. Reported medication errors in this setting have not been fully explored and give cause for examination. A query of the Pennsylvania Patient Safety Reporting System (PA-PSRS) database for reports from July 2015 through June 2017 in outpatient hematology and oncology clinics affiliated with hospitals or health systems revealed 1,015 reported medication errors. More than half (53.7%, n = 545) reached the patient. The most commonly reported event types included dose omissions (15.3%, n = 155) and wrong dose/over dosage (13.1%, n = 133). High-alert medications were reported in 55.5% (n = 563) of the events. Antineoplastic agents made up 94.3% (n = 531) of medication errors reported with high-alert medications. Due to the potential hazards associated with antineoplastic agents, special care is warranted to reduce the risk of errors associated with this class of medications. Error reduction strategies in outpatient hematology and oncology clinics begin with a risk assessment of medication use processes and focus on patient information, order communication, quality processes, and risk management. (Pa Patient Saf Advis 2017 Dec;14[4].)

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