Significant and Sustained Reduction in Chemotherapy Errors Through Improvement Science.

Weiss BD, Scott M, Demmel K, Kotagal UR, Perentesis JP, Walsh KE
J Oncol Pract 13 e329-e336 01/01/2017


PURPOSE: A majority of children with cancer are now cured with highly complex chemotherapy regimens incorporating multiple drugs and demanding monitoring schedules. The risk for error is high, and errors can occur at any stage in the process, from order generation to pharmacy formulation to bedside drug administration. Our objective was to describe a program to eliminate errors in chemotherapy use among children.

METHODS: To increase reporting of chemotherapy errors, we supplemented the hospital reporting system with a new chemotherapy near-miss reporting system. After the model for improvement, we then implemented several interventions, including a daily chemotherapy huddle, improvements to the preparation and delivery of intravenous therapy, headphones for clinicians ordering chemotherapy, and standards for chemotherapy administration throughout the hospital.

RESULTS: Twenty-two months into the project, we saw a centerline shift in our U chart of chemotherapy errors that reached the patient from a baseline rate of 3.8 to 1.9 per 1,000 doses. This shift has been sustained for > 4 years. In Poisson regression analyses, we found an initial increase in error rates, followed by a significant decline in errors after 16 months of improvement work ( P < .001).

CONCLUSION: After the model for improvement, our improvement efforts were associated with significant reductions in chemotherapy errors that reached the patient. Key drivers for our success included error vigilance through a huddle, standardization, and minimization of interruptions during ordering.

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