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Development of a simplified protocol for administration of 20% magnesium sulphate for prophylaxis and treatment of eclampsia

Lynne Palmer, Brandi D Newby
Canadian Journal of Hospital Pharmacy 2009, 62 (6): 490-5

BACKGROUND: Magnesium sulphate is a high-risk medication that is used extensively for prophylaxis and treatment of eclampsia. To accommodate recommendations related to fluid restrictions and patient safety, a protocol was developed for the administration of 20% magnesium sulphate.

OBJECTIVES: To determine whether administration of 20% magnesium sulphate increased the risk of phlebitis relative to 2% to 8% magnesium sulphate solutions, to determine if the institution's protocol for administration of 20% magnesium sulphate reduced errors during administration, and to identify strategies to further reduce potential errors.

METHODS: A retrospective chart audit was undertaken for patients who had received magnesium sulphate for prophylaxis of eclampsia from December 2004 to December 2007. A failure mode and effect analysis was used to identify additional safety strategies.

RESULTS: A total of 47 patients received magnesium sulphate according to the old administration protocol (2% to 8% solution) and 29 according to the new protocol (20% solution). No evidence of phlebitis was documented for any of these 76 patients. A few errors occurred with changes in rates or concentrations and because of failure to reset the pump after the loading dose, but there was no documented harm to any of the patients. Strategies to further reduce errors in the administration of magnesium sulphate included development of preprinted orders, use of 20% magnesium sulphate for all infusion rates, changes to pump settings to enable use of fractional infusion rates, preparation of magnesium sulphate in mini-bags in the pharmacy, double-check of pump settings by nurses, anesthesiology consult, and distribution of protocols to all areas in the hospital (to limit errors associated with patient transfers).

CONCLUSIONS: There was no documented phlebitis, and fewer errors occurred when 20% magnesium sulphate was used. Several additional strategies were identified to reduce errors in the administration of this high-risk medication.


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