These particular guidelines were developed and used to promote consistency of nursing management during a separate study on bronchiolitis. The pathway included an initial admission assessment. It also stated parameters for initiating and stopping both oxygen therapy and intravenous fluid therapy along with discharge guidelines.
The authors found no significant difference in length of stay or time in oxygen. Fifteen infants (7.2%) in the control group required readmission within two weeks of discharge compared with two infants (0.9%) in the pathway group (p=.001). Of the control group 33.8% received intravenous fluids (IVFs) compared with 19.2% of the pathway infants (p=.001). There was also greater steroid use in the control group but no difference in antibiotic usage. Specific data regarding steroids and antibiotics is not included.
The clinical pathway appears a useful tool for discharge planning with a decreased incidence of hospital readmission when specific discharge goals are utilized. The authors also reported a decreased use of IVFs in the pathway group. This was attributed to having specific parameters (O2 required, RR>60/min or inadequate oral feeding) for when to initiate them. It is unclear from the article whether meeting a single parameter or all three parameters triggered the initiation of IVFs.
The authors also point out the limitation of using a historical control given annual variations in severity sometimes seen with bronchiolitis. They attempted to minimize this by collecting data for each group over two consecutive winters.
Preprinted Paper Orders Reduce Medication Errors
Kozer E, Scolnik D, MacPherson A, et al. Using a preprinted order sheet to reduce prescription errors in a pediatric emergency department: A randomized, controlled trial. Pediatrics. 2005(116):1299-1302.
Medical errors, including medication errors, are common and are written about with increasing frequency in the lay press. Accreditation bodies and individual hospitals are striving for ways to decrease these errors. In some instances potential solutions include purchasing new computer systems for electronic physician order entry. This study looks at whether implementing a preprinted paper order sheet can decrease the incidence of medication errors in a pediatric ED.
This randomized, prospective study occurred during 18 days in July 2001 with nine days randomly assigned into each arm. The first arm used the hospital’s regular blank order sheets for all medication orders. The second arm used the experimental preprinted order sheet. This sheet required the staff to specify the dose, weight-adjusted dose, total daily dose, route of administration, and frequency for each medication ordered. Two medical students entered the data into a database that included information about patients’ demographics, diagnosis, acuity, details on the prescribing physician, the form used, and all medications prescribed and given to the patient. This information was subsequently reviewed by two blinded pediatric emergency physicians who determined if an error occurred and, if so, the degree of the error.
During the study period there were 2,157 visits to the ED with 95.4% charts available for review. Seven-hundred-ninety-five medications were prescribed with 376 ordered on the new form. Drug errors were identified in 68 (16.6%) orders when the regular form was used and in 37 (9.8%) orders on the new form. There was one severe error and 13 significant errors using the new form and 36 significant errors on the regular form. The new form was associated with a twofold decrease in the risk for a medication error even after accounting for the level of training of the ordering practitioner. There was an even greater reduction in the risk for a severe or significant error.
The literature has shown that computerized physician order entry can reduce the number of medication errors in the inpatient setting; however, it is not available in many hospitals and its effectiveness has not been shown in EDs. The authors point out that most medications ordered in the ED are prepared and given by nurses. The benefits of a computerized system in this setting is unclear.