Hydromorphone is a potent opioid frequently used to treat moderate to severe, acute or chronic pain. Because of its high potency, errors with this medicine may result in serious adverse patient outcomes.

Hydromorphone incidents

Incidents involving confusion between morphine and hydromorphone have occurred, including fatal incidents involving inadvertent administration of hydromorphone instead of morphine. Hydromorphone is available in a variety of strengths and formulations (short and long acting). Dose calculation errors involving high-concentration injectable hydromorphone can result in an overdose.

Hydromorphone Standard

The Hydromorphone Standard of the NSW Health High-Risk Medicines Management Policy (PD2020_045) outlines the minimum actions required to reduce risks associated with hydromorphone. The Standard includes a risk mitigation strategy and also addresses hydromorphone prescribing, storage, supply, administration, patient monitoring, pharmaceutical review and patient information and education requirements.

The tool below can also be used to assist hospitals in monitoring risks associated with hydromorphone. It can also be used to monitor local implementation and compliance with the Hydromorphone Standard of the High-Risk Medicines Management Policy.