Long‐term care physical environments – effect on medication errors

Department of Gerontology, Simon Fraser University, Vancouver, Canada.
International Journal of Health Care Quality Assurance 06/2012; 25(5):431-41. DOI: 10.1108/09526861211235928
Source: PubMed


Few studies examine physical environmental factors and their effects on staff health, effectiveness, work errors and job satisfaction. To address this gap, this study aims to examine environmental features and their role in medication and nursing errors in long-term care facilities.
A mixed methodological strategy was used. Data were collected via focus groups, observing medication preparation and administration, and a nursing staff survey in four facilities.
The paper reveals that, during the medication preparation phase, physical design, such as medication room layout, is a major source of potential errors. During medication administration, social environment is more likely to contribute to errors. Interruptions, noise and staff shortages were particular problems.
The survey's relatively small sample size needs to be considered when interpreting the findings. Also, actual error data could not be included as existing records were incomplete.
The study offers several relatively low-cost recommendations to help staff reduce medication errors. Physical environmental factors are important when addressing measures to reduce errors.
The findings of this study underscore the fact that the physical environment's influence on the possibility of medication errors is often neglected. This study contributes to the scarce empirical literature examining the relationship between physical design and patient safety.

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Available from: Habib Chaudhury, Dec 18, 2013