1. Angelini, Diane J. EdD, CNM, FACNM, FAAN
  2. Blackburn, Susan PhD, RN, C, FAAN

Article Content

This issue on pharmacology brings together a diverse array of topics to update the perinatal and neonatal nurse. Pharmacology content is always crucial to excellence in clinical practice. Staying current with new drugs and new drug treatments is critical. Because continuing education units (CEUs) are becoming more and more mandatory for advanced practice relicensure, the CEU program in this issue should prove useful to many readers.


Shannon opens the issue with an update on advances in antiretroviral therapy for HIV-infected pregnant women and their infants. She discusses in length the categories of drugs currently approved for use in HIV disease. She also reviews treatment decisions involving drug therapies.


As updated information becomes available, the need to redirect dosing and overall use of steroids has changed. 1 McGee reviews the literature on steroid usage for preterm labor and then expands the discussion to include steroid use in the treatment of obstetric/medical complications of pregnancy such as autoimmune disease, asthma, and other conditions.


Advances in the care of diabetes have introduced practitioners to the new oral antidiabetes medications. There have been widespread discussion and concern regarding potential use of these drugs in pregnancy. 2 Slocum and Burke Sosa describe the oral agents currently available to treat diabetes and review the body of research on such drugs. They include recommendations and controversial issues in their discussion.


Use of medications in neonates, especially preterm infants, is always challenging due to the neonate's unique and changing physiology. Antibiotics are among the most commonly used medications in the neonatal intensive care unit. Vancomycin and gentamicin are two antibiotics that have been the focus of much research and attention in recent years with proposed changes in monitoring and dosing strategies. Dawson provides an in-depth analysis of the controversies and recommendations regarding use of these agents. She reviews current research on dosing and monitoring strategies, concerns about development of resistant strains, and newer therapies with these two medications.


Medication errors are a continuing concern in hospitals as well as in outpatient settings. Even with increased awareness of this issue, error rates remain high. In her article on reducing medication errors in neonatal care, Lefrak emphasizes the need to focus on understanding how and why errors occur rather than on identifying someone to blame. She describes models of error reduction, common causes of errors and problem identification techniques. She also provides specific recommendations for improving patient safety in the neonatal intensive care units. Although her emphasis is on developing safer practice in neonatal care, her recommendations have value for both perinatal and neonatal nurses.




1. Antenatal corticosteroids revisited: repeat cour ses. NIH Consensus Statement. 2000;17(2):1-18. [Context Link]


2. Coustan DR. Oral hypoglycemic agents for the ob/gyn. Contemp OB-GYN. 2001;2:44-63. [Context Link]