Medication omissions in the first 48 hours after admission: failure in prescribed medicines reaching in-patients in paediatrics wards at the University Teaching Hospitals, Children’s Hospital in Lusaka, Zambia

Martin Kampamba, Steven Mulolo, Margaret Phiri, Martha Chibale Chulu, Webrod Mufwambi, Steward Mudenda, Michelo Banda, Christabel Nang’andu Hikaambo


Background: The first few days of in-patient care are possibly the most significant in a patient’s recovery and any omitted medications during this period may harm the patient or increase their hospital length of stay. Therefore, our study aimed at assessing the frequency of medication administration omission errors and their reasons for the omission in the paediatric wards after admission at University Teaching Children’s Hospital.

Methods: This was a descriptive study in which 259 patient files and drug charts were reviewed. Admission prescription charts were studied in detail over a period of four weeks and all drugs prescribed but then not given in the first 48 hours were recorded as omitted medications, along with the reason given for their omission.

Results: From the 259 drug charts, a total of 1598 doses of drugs were ordered within 48 hours of admission. However, from this, only a total of 1132 doses were administered with the remaining 466 doses omitted, which accounted for a frequency of 29.2%. When the frequency of medication omission errors was compared, parenteral drugs (70.8% vs. 25.3%, [p=0.0001]), afternoon shift (48.5% vs. 15.8%, [p=0.0001]), and anti-infective medications (69.1% vs. 39.4%, [p=0.0001]) were found to be the most frequently omitted medications. There were also considerably more medication omissions in patients prescribed with more medications (median number: 4, I QR [2, 6] vs. median number: 2, IQR [2, 4], [p=0. 0.001]). The most common reason for the omission was medication unavailability (89.3%), followed by work overload (71.4%), and the patient is off the ward (71.4%).

Conclusions: This study revealed that medication omissions are a continuing problem and this may result in increased morbidity and mortality rates. There is a need to put in place specific strategies to reduce this problem.



Medication omissions, Administration errors, Medication errors, Paediatrics

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