Error in preparing morphine infusions in a UK paediatric hospital

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To investigate current practice and accuracy during preparation of morphine N/PCA infusions in hospital theatres and wards at a UK children’s hospital” Rashed et al (2016).

Abstract:

Background: Administering nurse/patient controlled analgesia (N/PCA) to children requires complex dose calculations and multiple manipulations to prepare morphine solutions in 50 mL syringes for administration by continuous infusion with additional boluses.

Objective: To investigate current practice and accuracy during preparation of morphine N/PCA infusions in hospital theatres and wards at a UK children’s hospital.

Methods: Direct observation of infusion preparation methods and morphine concentration quantification using UV-Vis spectrophotometry. The British Pharmacopoeia specification for morphine sulphate injection drug content (±7.5 %) was used as a reference limit.

Results: Preparation of 153 morphine infusions for 128 paediatric patients was observed. Differences in preparation method were identified, with selection of inappropriate syringe size noted. Lack of appreciation of the existence of a volume overage (i.e. volume in excess of the nominal volume) in morphine ampoules was identified. Final volume of the infusion was greater than the target (50 mL) in 33.3 % of preparations. Of 78 infusions analysed, 61.5 % had a morphine concentration outside 92.5-107.5 % of label strength. Ten infusions deviated by more than 20 %, with one by 100 %.

Conclusions: Variation in morphine infusion preparation method was identified. Lack of appreciation of the volume overage in ampoules, volumetric accuracy of different syringe sizes and ability to perform large dilutions of small volumes were sources of inaccuracy in infusion concentration, resulting in patients receiving morphine doses higher or lower than prescribed.

Reference:

Rashed, A.N., Tomlin, S., Aguado, V., Forbes, B. and Whittlesea, C. (2016) Sources and magnitude of error in preparing morphine infusions for nurse-patient controlled analgesia in a UK paediatric hospital. International Journal of Clinical Pharmacy. August 8th. [Epub ahead of print].

DOI: 10.1007/s11096-016-0369-3

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