Intravenous news: The NPSA report in Rapid Response Report NPSA/2010?RRR018 “Issue – A loading dose is an initial large dose of a medicine used to ensure a quick therapeutic response. It is usually given for a short period before therapy continues with a lower maintenance dose. The use of loading doses of medicines can be complex and error prone. Incorrect use of loading doses or subsequent maintenance regimens may lead to severe harm or death.
Evidence of harm – Between 1 January 2005 and 30 April 2010 there were 1,165 patient safety incidents related to loading doses reported to the National Reporting and Learning System. Of these incidents, two were fatal, four caused severe harm and 102 caused moderate harm. A further fatality was reported by coroners letter. The fatal and severe harm incidents all related to incorrect loading doses, omitted or delayed administration of loading doses, or unintentional continuation of loading doses.
Reducing the risk of harm – The recommendations in this Rapid Response Report (RRR) relate to all healthcare sectors and specialties and to patients of all ages, including children and neonates.