Receiving Medications at the Hospital

 

Today, parents can often visit and stay with their sick, hospitalized child whenever they want. Many parents take advantage of this and remain with their child as much as possible, getting more involved in their child’s care. For an ill child, this can be comforting and provide an important emotional benefit, which might lead to faster healing as well as long-term behavioral benefits.1 For the parents, this can lead to less stress, anxiety, and sadness.1

Our database of reported medication errors now contains hundreds of cases of accidental mix-ups between adult and pediatric products used to immunize patients against diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis (whooping cough). Several reports involve errors that affected numerous patients. In one report alone, 80 clinic patients were given the wrong vaccine. In all, these mix-ups may be affecting thousands of patients given that not all cases are reported to ISMP. We first reported this problem in 2006 (Institute for Safe Medication Practices. Adacel (Tdap) and Daptacel (DTaP) confusion. ISMP Medication Safety Alert! August 24, 2006).

A consumer contacted us recently after visiting a hospitalized patient. While there, she had the opportunity to observe nurses administering medications. She told us that the nurses would bring a clear plastic cup with loose tablets and capsules into the room, hand the pills to the patient, and ask the patient to swallow them. The person who wrote to us noted that none of the pills were labeled. She wanted to know if this was the proper procedure, since it would be difficult to assure that these unlabeled medications were right for the patient.

Receiving cancer treatment, including chemotherapy, can be a very frightening experience. It may feel as if you are placing your life completely in the hands of your doctors and nurses. In a very real sense you are, especially if you are unfamiliar with the medications you are receiving. To make you feel more secure, here are some safety tips that some of our nurses wrote for you.

Catapres-TTS (transdermal therapeutic system) patches contain the medicine clonidine, which is used to treat high blood pressure. The patch is applied to the skin where it slowly releases the medicine into the body over a specific period of time.

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