Audit of medication errors by anesthetists in North Western Nigeria
Background: Safety issues are an important aspect of anesthesia practice. The relevance of medication and drug administration errors in our everyday practice is an important aspect of medical audit. Although there have been few case reports of drug administration errors by anesthetists, there is paucity of information regarding medication errors in anesthetic practice in Nigeria. We set out to study the incidence of medication errors among anesthesia practitioners in Kaduna State, North Western Nigeria and to suggest ways to minimize such errors.
Materials and Methods: A questionnaire‑based study was conducted among physician anesthetists and nurse anesthetists working in the major secondary and tertiary hospitals in Kaduna State, North Western Nigeria. The data obtained was analyzed using SPSS Version 17.0 and the data presented in relevant charts and tables.
Results: A total of 43 persons responded to the questionnaire with a high response rate of 86% and a male/female ratio of 2.3:1. Most of the anesthetists (38 or 88%) work in tertiary government hospitals. Twenty‑four (56%) of them admitted to ever having a medication error, and 34 (79%) of them attributed the medication error to problems with drug labeling from manufactures using similar labels for different drugs. Untoward sequelae resulted in 44% of the patients that were affected by these medication errors and these ranged from cardiac arrest to delayed recovery from anesthesia. Majority of the respondents recommended vigilance, double checking of drug labels, and color coding of syringes as ways to minimize medication errors.
Conclusion: Medication errors do occur in the everyday practice of anesthetists in Nigeria as in other countries and can lead to morbidity and mortality in our patients. Routine audit and reporting of critical incidents including errors in drug administration should be encouraged. Reduction of medication errors is an important aspect of patient safety, and vigilance remains the watchword.
Key words: Anesthetic practice, medication errors, safety