The aim of the study was to determine the prevalence and main types of harm caused by high-alert medication after medication errors (MEs) in hospitals.
A literature systematic review was conducted on PubMed, Scopus, Web of Science, and Lilacs. Eligible studies published until June 2017 were included.
Of 6244 studies identified through searching four electronic databases, five studies meeting the selection criteria of this study were analyzed. There was wide variation in the overall prevalence of harm due to MEs involving HAM, from 3.8% to 100%, whereas the pooled prevalence was 16.3%. Overall, 0.01% of harm caused by MEs involving HAM resulted in death. The severity of errors ranged from 0.1% to 19.2% for moderate errors, 0.2% to 15.4% for serious errors, and 1.9% lethal to the patients. The highest prevalences of harm occurred after errors involving potassium chloride 15%, insulin, and epoprostenol. The lowest prevalence of harm was related to errors of anticoagulants administration. The methodological heterogeneity limited direct comparisons among the studies.
Of the 15 drugs on the list of Institute for Safe Medication Practices HAMs in the United States and Brazil, nine did not present scientific evidence of the potential for harm. In general, few studies, characterized by methodological and conceptual heterogeneity, were performed to determine the harm prevalence resulting from errors involving these drugs.