Majority of Aussie palliative patients receive incorrect opioid dosage

2018-01-08 06:12:44 GMT2018-01-08 14:12:44(Beijing Time) Xinhua English

CANBERRA, Jan. 8 (Xinhua) -- Palliative care patients inAustralia regularly receive smaller doses of opioids than they havebeen prescribed, a study has found.

The report, released by the University of South Australia(UniSA) and a host of other institutions on Monday, found that 57percent of patients in three New South Wales (NSW) palliative carefacilities were either administered an incorrect dosage or missed adosage altogether.

The rate of errors involving opioids in those facilities wasthree times higher than in other healthcare settings, such ashospitals, researchers found.

Researchers spent two years examining dosing practise in thefacilities, finding that the majority of patients who received anincorrect dose or missed a dose were cancer patients aged in their70s.

Debra Rowett, a member of UniSA's School of Pharmacy and MedicalSciences, said that the study highlighted the importance ofunderstanding why the errors occurred.

She said that the practice of underdosing was particularlyalarming as it could contribute to a patient's pain.

"Palliative care clinicians have identified that safe use ofopioids is a patient safety priority and this study is an importantfirst step in quantifying and identifying opioid errors," Rowettsaid on Monday.

"The high rate of errors in palliative care environmentscompared to other healthcare services most likely reflects thehigher volume of opioids such as morphine being used for patientsto manage their pain in the last stages of their lives."

Of the opioid errors uncovered, 35 percent involved morphine andtwo thirds were attributed to administration errors. 

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