Contributing Factors of Medication Errors in Nursing Practice
TimeThursday, April 152:00pm - 3:00pm EDT
LocationPatient Safety Research and Initiatives
DescriptionAlthough mistakes are a part of human nature, errors can lead to deadly and costly outcomes in high-risk environments. Research shows that medical errors are the third leading cause of death in the United States and have cost the healthcare system millions of dollars every year. In further detail, medication errors are one of the most common types of medical errors within the healthcare industry. Nurses are predominantly responsible for the role of administering prescription medications to patients throughout their shift. Due to the high prevalence rate of medication errors in nursing practice and its high adverse effects, a deeper understanding of the contributing factors of medication errors can aid in developing effective methods to prevent future accidents and to maintain a safe healthcare system. Although it is easy to place blame on nurses when accidents occur, medication errors transpire as a result of both individual and system level failures. The goal of this literature review is to analyze the contributing factors of medication errors at both an individual and system level in nursing practice to maximize patient safety. The individual level factors that contribute to medication errors include workload, fatigue, distractions, interruptions, and pharmacological knowledge. On a systemic level, factors that contribute to medication errors include ineffective communication, workplace policies and procedures, level of training or lack thereof, hospital safety culture, and lack of error reporting. Furthermore, the manuscript will define and examine the outcomes of each factor and its relation to medication errors. For each outcome, suggestions for improvement are provided in order to eliminate the likelihood of future medication errors within the healthcare system. Research shows that focusing on the system approach and implementing system changes in healthcare organizations rather than focusing on individual factors can reduce errors by 70% (Anderson & Abrahamson, 2017).