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Cases & Commentaries
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Nicole M. Acquisto, PharmD, and Daniel J. Cobaugh, PharmD; March 2019
Seen in the emergency department, a man with insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus had not taken insulin for 3 days. His blood glucose levels were in the 800s with an anion-gap acidosis and positive beta hydroxybutyrate. While awaiting an ICU bed for treatment of diabetic ketoacidosis, the patient received fluids, an insulin drip was started, and blood glucose levels were monitored hourly. When lab results showed he was improving, the team decided to convert his insulin drip to subcutaneous long-acting insulin. However, both the intern and the resident ordered 50 units of insulin, and the patient received both doses—causing his blood glucose level to dip into the 30s.
Journal Article > Commentary
McDonald CJ. Ann Intern Med. 2006;144:510-516.
This case study shares the events of a near miss when a patient almost received a fatal dose of insulin in response to another patient's reported hyperglycemia. Ironically, the root cause of the problem involved a new bar-coding system to prevent errors in patient identification. The authors discuss the case in detail and advise caution in the implementation of new technology (eg, computerized provider order entry), which may solve safety issues but create the opportunity for others. This article is part of a special collection entitled "Quality Grand Rounds," a series of articles published in the Annals of Internal Medicine that explores a range of quality issues and medical errors.
Journal Article > Study
Evaluation of harm associated with high dose-range clinical decision support overrides in the intensive care unit.
Wong A, Rehr C, Seger DL, et al. Drug Saf. 2019;42:573-579.
Although clinical decision support is intended to improve safety, decision support alerts often result in alert fatigue and overrides. This prospective observational study examined overrides for exceeding the maximum dose of a medication in the intensive care unit. Researchers determined that insulin was the most frequent medication for which a maximum dosage alert was overridden. In almost 90% of cases, the overrides were deemed clinically appropriate. The authors conclude that more intelligent clinical decision support for medication dosing is needed to balance safety with alert fatigue in the intensive care unit. A past PSNet perspective discussed the challenges of implementing effective medication decision support systems.
Journal Article > Study
Transcription errors of blood glucose values and insulin errors in an intensive care unit: secondary data analysis toward electronic medical record–glucometer interoperability.
Sowan AK, Vera A, Malshe A, Reed C. JMIR Med Inform. 2019;7:e11873.
This retrospective study examined possible transcription errors for blood glucose values among patients in a surgical intensive care unit for which glucometers did not connect with the electronic health record. Investigators identified multiple insulin dosing errors as a result of transcription errors. They spotlight the need for interoperability between glucometers and electronic health records.