Errors in the medication process: Frequency, type, and potential

Aarhus University Hospital, Department of Quality improvement and Patient Safety, Aarhus, Denmark.
International Journal for Quality in Health Care (Impact Factor: 1.76). 03/2005; 17(1):15-22. DOI: 10.1093/intqhc/mzi015
Source: PubMed


To investigate the frequency, type, and consequences of medication errors in more stages of the medication process, including discharge summaries.
A cross-sectional study using three methods to detect errors in the medication process: direct observations, unannounced control visits, and chart reviews. With the exception of errors in discharge summaries all potential medication error consequences were evaluated by physicians and pharmacists.
A randomly selected medical and surgical department at Aarhus University Hospital, Denmark.
Eligible in-hospital patients aged 18 or over (n = 64), physicians prescribing drugs and nurses dispensing and administering drugs.
Frequency, type, and potential clinical consequences of all detected errors compared with the total number of opportunities for error.
We detected a total of 1065 errors in 2467 opportunities for errors (43%). In worst case scenario 20-30% of all evaluated medication errors were assessed as potential adverse drug events. In each stage the frequency of medication errors were-ordering: 167/433 (39%), transcription: 310/558 (56%), dispensing: 22/538 (4%), administration: 166/412 (41%), and finally discharge summaries: 401/526 (76%). The most common types of error throughout the medication process were: lack of drug form, unordered drug, omission of drug/dose, and lack of identity control.
There is a need for quality improvement, as almost 50% of all errors in doses and prescriptions in the medication process were caused by missing actions. We assume that the number of errors could be reduced by simple changes of existing procedures or by implementing automated technologies in the medication process.

1 Follower
73 Reads
  • Source
    • "than previous studies. In previous two survey studies the medication error rates were reported as 42.1% and 43 % (Lisby et al., 2005; Mrayyon et al., 2007). In another survey reporting errors from nurse's perspective showed that the error rate was 64.5% (Cheragi et al., 2013). "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Medication errors in oncology may cause severe clinical problems due to low therapeutic indices and high toxicity of chemotherapeutic agents. We aimed to investigate unintentional medication errors and underlying factors during chemotherapy preparation and administration based on a systematic survey conducted to reflect oncology nurses experience. This study was conducted in 18 adult chemotherapy units with volunteer participation of 206 nurses. A survey developed by primary investigators and medication errors (MAEs) defined preventable errors during prescription of medication, ordering, preparation or administration. The survey consisted of 4 parts: demographic features of nurses; workload of chemotherapy units; errors and their estimated monthly number during chemotherapy preparation and administration; and evaluation of the possible factors responsible from ME. The survey was conducted by face to face interview and data analyses were performed with descriptive statistics. Chi-square or Fisher exact tests were used for a comparative analysis of categorical data. Some 83.4% of the 210 nurses reported one or more than one error during chemotherapy preparation and administration. Prescribing or ordering wrong doses by physicians (65.7%) and noncompliance with administration sequences during chemotherapy administration (50.5%) were the most common errors. The most common estimated average monthly error was not following the administration sequence of the chemotherapeutic agents (4.1 times/month, range 1-20). The most important underlying reasons for medication errors were heavy workload (49.7%) and insufficient number of staff (36.5%). Our findings suggest that the probability of medication error is very high during chemotherapy preparation and administration, the most common involving prescribing and ordering errors. Further studies must address the strategies to minimize medication error in chemotherapy receiving patients, determine sufficient protective measures and establishing multistep control mechanisms.
    Full-text · Article · Mar 2015 · Asian Pacific journal of cancer prevention: APJCP
  • Source
    • "In emergency of Hospital A, the prescriptions on which the dose was not mentioned counted as 43.9% as compared to 1% in emergency department of Hospital B, probably due to e-prescribing in this department. In a study, the most common types of error throughout the medication process were: lack of drug form, unordered drug, and omission of drug/dose [18]. A small percentage (0.6–7.5%) of under dose can be seen in both hospitals prescriptions, this may lead to incomplete treatment and the patients usually need extra visits to hospitals. "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: The knowledge of medication errors is an essential prerequisite for better healthcare delivery. The present study investigated prescribing errors in prescriptions from outpatient departments (OPDs) and emergency wards of two public sector hospitals in Lahore, Pakistan. A manual prescription system was followed in Hospital A. Hospital B was running a semi-computerised prescription system in the OPD and a fully computerised prescription system in the emergency ward. A total of 510 prescriptions from both departments of these two hospitals were evaluated for patient characteristics, demographics and medication errors. The data was analysed using a chi square test for comparison of errors between both the hospitals. The medical departments in OPDs of both hospitals were the highest prescribers at 45%-60%. The age group receiving the most treatment in emergency wards of both the hospitals was 21-30 years (21%-24%). A trend of omitting patient addresses and diagnoses was observed in almost all prescriptions from both of the hospitals. Nevertheless, patient information such as name, age, gender and legibility of the prescriber's signature were found in almost 100% of the electronic-prescriptions. In addition, no prescribing error was found pertaining to drug concentrations, quantity and rate of administration in e-prescriptions. The total prescribing errors in the OPD and emergency ward of Hospital A were found to be 44% and 60%, respectively. In hospital B, the OPD had 39% medication errors and the emergency department had 73.5% errors; this unexpected difference between the emergency ward and OPD of hospital B was mainly due to the inclusion of 69.4% omissions of route of administration in the prescriptions. The incidence of prescription overdose was approximately 7%-19% in the manual system and approximately 8% in semi and fully electronic system. The omission of information and incomplete information are contributors of prescribing errors in both manual and electronic prescriptions.
    Full-text · Article · Aug 2014 · PLoS ONE
    • "In detecting problems in the medication process, a direct observation method has been found to be a more efficient and accurate method than reviewing charts and incident reports (Flynn et al., 2002). This method was quite similar to a previous structured observation study conducted in Aarhus University Hospital's medical and surgical wards (Lisby et al., 2005), which also revealed information concerning the lack of patients' identification. However, unlike that study, we identified work environmental and nurse-related factors that could be associated with patient identification. "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: The aims of this study were to clarify how a patient's identity was verified before the administration of medication in medical and surgical wards in a hospital, as well as to study the association between patient identification and the registered nurse's work experience, observed interruptions, and distractions. The study material was collected during April and May 2012 in two surgical and two medical wards in one university hospital in Finland, using a direct, structured observation method. A total of 32 registered nurses were observed while they administered 1058 medications to 122 patients. Patients were not identified at all in 66.8% (n = 707) of medication administrations. Patient identifications were made more often by nurses with shorter work experience in the nursing profession or in the wards (4 years or less), or if distractions existed during medication administration. According to the results, patient identification was not adequately conducted. There is a need for education and change in the culture of medication processes and nursing practice.
    No preview · Article · Jul 2014 · Nursing and Health Sciences
Show more