oa Southern African Journal of Anaesthesia and Analgesia - Paediatric postoperative analgesia prescribing report card : “could do better”

Volume 25 Number 4
  • ISSN : 2220-1181
  • E-ISSN: 2220-1173



Background: A key element of paediatric pain management is prescribing and dispensing analgesia. This process differs in children, putting them at greater risk of drug error.

Methods: This study was a retrospective postoperative analgesia prescription chart review of children who had orthopaedic surgery in a tertiary hospital in Durban, South Africa. Patient records of 202 children, aged 6 months to 12 years, with 232 theatre visits were reviewed. Prescription charts were inspected for patient characteristics, evidence of good prescribing practice and data regarding the prescribing and administration of analgesia.

Results: Of the 257 analysed charts 254 (99%) had paracetamol, 208 (81%) had an opioid and 49 (19%) had a nonsteroidal antiinflammatory drug (NSAID) prescribed. Underdosing was evident in all groups of analgesics prescribed. Opioids were more often prescribed with a pro-re-nata caveat and were the least correctly dispensed. There were no prescription charts in which all the requirements for good prescribing practice were complete.

Conclusions: This study demonstrates a high rate of paediatric drug error in both the prescribing and dispensing of analgesia. Potential under-utilisation of NSAIDs in this orthopaedic population is also noted. Lack of knowledge or confidence needed by clinicians to adhere to principles of paediatric dosing and multimodal analgesia may be contributing factors. Issues pertaining to paediatric analgesia prescribing and dispensing are highlighted and should be targeted by institution and population specific interventions.

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