Medication Errors Observed in 36 Health Care Facilities
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Barker, Kenneth N.
Flynn, Elizabeth A.
Pepper, Ginette A.
Mikeal, Robert L.
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CitationBarker, Kenneth N., Elizabeth A. Flynn, Ginette A. Pepper, David W. Bates, and Robert L. Mikeal. 2002. "Medication errors observed in 36 health care facilities." Archives of Internal Medicine 162, no. 16: 1897-1903.
AbstractBackground: Medication errors are a national concern.
Objective: To identify the prevalence of medication errors (doses administered differently than ordered).
Design: A prospective cohort study.
Setting: Hospitals accredited by the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations, nonaccredited hospitals, and skilled nursing facilities in Georgia and Colorado.
Participants: A stratified random sample of 36 institutions. Twenty-six declined, with random replacement. Medication doses given (or omitted) during at least 1 medication pass during a 1- to 4-day period by nurses on high medication–volume nursing units. The target sample was 50 day-shift doses per nursing unit or until all doses for that medication pass were administered.
Methods: Medication errors were witnessed by observation, and verified by a research pharmacist (E.A.F.). Clinical significance was judged by an expert panel of physicians.
Main Outcome Measure: Medication errors reaching patients.
Results: In the 36 institutions, 19% of the doses (605/ 3216) were in error. The most frequent errors by category were wrong time (43%), omission (30%), wrong dose (17%), and unauthorized drug (4%). Seven per- cent of the errors were judged potential adverse drug events. There was no significant difference between error rates in the 3 settings (P = .82) or by size (P = .39). Error rates were higher in Colorado than in Georgia (P = .04).
Conclusions: Medication errors were common (nearly 1 of every 5 doses in the typical hospital and skilled nursing facility). The percentage of errors rated potentially harmful was 7%, or more than 40 per day in a typical 300- patient facility. The problem of defective medication ad- ministration systems, although varied, is widespread.
Citable link to this pagehttps://nrs.harvard.edu/URN-3:HUL.INSTREPOS:37367087
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