A hospital reported two medication errors that occurred because of confusion between folinic acid and folic acid. Folinic acid is another name for leucovorin calcium, one of several derivatives of folic acid. Administration of leucovorin calcium can counteract serious toxicity of folic acid antagonists, such as methotrexate and trimethoprim. It can also enhance the effects of the chemotherapy a ent fluorouracil.
In one case, the pharmacy correctly dispensed leucovorin calcium when folinic acid was ordered. However, the nurse, thinking the order was for folic acid, borrowed a dose of folic acid from patient supplies that had been discontinued but not yet returned to the pharmacy. In the other case, both a unit secretary and a pharmacist transcribed a folinic acid order as folic acid.
Because of the risk of name confusion, health care providers should use the correct name, leucovorin calcium, when prescribing this medication. If you receive an order for folinic acid, ask for clarification before you transcribe the order.
Another caution about this drug name: Communicating leukovorin calcium without the "calcium" could cause it to be confused with Leukeran (chlorambucil). 9012@
Copyright Springhouse Corporation Aug 2000
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