Calls interrupting pediatric ICU nurses can lead to medication errors, study finds

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Receiving calls on their work phones may lead nurses in the pediatric intensive care unit to make mistakes in administering medications, but text messages were not associated with errors, a study published in JAMA Pediatrics shows.

Researchers collected telecommunications and EHR data from a pediatric ICU at a children's hospital from Aug. 1, 2016 to Sept. 30, 2017. They gathered data for 257 nurses who administered medications for 3,308 patients. They examined the effect of incoming phone calls and text messages in the 10 minutes leading up to the administration of medication. The calls and texts were received on the mobile phones given to nurses by the institution.

The overall rate of errors during 238,540 medication administration attempts was 3.1 percent when nurses did not receive incoming phone calls and 3.7 percent when they were interrupted by such calls.

Incoming text messages were not associated with medication errors.

The study also the shows experience plays a part. The odds of a nurse making errors when interrupted by calls is lower among nurses with more pediatric ICU experience (six months or more) compared to nurses with less experiences (less than six months).

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