Interesting Hopkins Study on Tracking Medication Error Reports

I ran across an interesting press release from earlier this year reporting that “Physicians, nurses, pharmacists equally prone to fault” for medication errors. The general findings in the article are pretty obvious but they have broken out the information in some useful ways. Here are some highlights from the article:

“One of the more interesting findings was that drug-administering errors, such as giving the patient the wrong drug or the wrong dose or at the wrong time, were quite common,” Lehmann says. “We had focused in the past on ordering errors. This finding made us look for possible interventions on the administration side.”

About near-miss errors:

Of the 1,010 originally reported errors, 173 (17 percent) were near-miss errors, which researchers describe as an error that didn’t harm the patient but would likely cause serious harm if it occurred again. A typical near-miss scenario would involve a physician prescribing the wrong dose, followed by a pharmacist dispensing the wrong dose, but a nurse catching the error before giving the wrong dose to the patient.

They claimed that none of the errors they tracked actually killed or seriously harmed a patient. I’m not sure that even if they did find those numbers that they would easily reported it.

About the errors breakdown:

Nearly one-third were prescribing errors, one-quarter were dispensing errors, 38 percent were administering errors, and 8 percent were documentation errors. Most errors occurred with anti-infective medications, such as antibiotics or antivirals (17 percent), followed by pain relievers and sedatives (15 percent), antihistamines for allergies (15 percent), nutritional supplements and vitamins (11 percent), gastrointestinal medications (8 percent), cardiovascular medications (7 percent) and hormonal medications (6 percent).

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