Background There are growing safety concerns around consumer product misidentification errors. As incidents are thought to be under-reported to the product safety authority, it is difficult to quantify the extent of the issue. Injury surveillance data can be utilised to identify such injuries, using a combination of narrative text and coded data analysis. This study aimed to identify product misidentification incidents that resulted in injuries and to retrieve any details relating to the injury circumstances using the text narrative.
Methods A secondary data analysis was conducted using Queensland Injury Surveillance data collected over 15 year period (1999–2013). Product misidentification injuries were identified through text search using relevant keywords. The text narrative of all cases identified were then manually reviewed to validate and categorise the product misidentification error by the type of product, whether or not the product had been decanted, and whether it was a dosing error.
Results Overall, 158 cases were validated as relating to product misidentification. Around 61% of these cases were related to primary misidentification due to resemblance between two different products and around 16% were related to secondary product misidentification, where the exposure product had been decanted from the original packaging. Although product misidentification injuries were identified in all age groups, almost half of the cases were amongst children under the age of 10 years old, with the unintended product being administered by an adult in 68% of these cases. The most common type of misidentification error identified in the data was cleaning products mistaken for consumable products (10%) and essential oils mistaken for paediatric syrup medications (12%).
Conclusion While injury surveillance data are unlikely to capture the full extent of this issue, the details extracted from text narrative data on trend and pattern of injuries related to product misidentification can potentially inform product safety regulators.
- product safety
- product misidentification
- product packaging
- injury surveillance
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