Attitudes to reporting medication error among differing healthcare professionals

Sarvadikar, Ajit, Prescott, Gordon orcid iconORCID: 0000-0002-9156-2361 and Williams, David (2010) Attitudes to reporting medication error among differing healthcare professionals. European Journal of Clinical Pharmacology, 66 (8). pp. 843-853. ISSN 0031-6970

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Medication error reporting is an important measure to prevent medication error incidents in a healthcare system and can serve as an important tool for improving patient safety. This study aimed to investigate attitudes of healthcare professionals (doctors, nurses, and pharmacists) in reporting medication errors.

Fifty-six healthcare professionals working at a 900-bed tertiary referral hospital were surveyed. A questionnaire using two different clinical scenarios (involving oral and intravenous administration of a drug) and four questions with an ascending order of worsening patient outcome was used. A Likert scale ranging from 1 (unlikely) to 5 (likely) was used to describe the likelihood of reporting a medication error.

The overall response rate was 57% (43% for doctors, 68% for nurses, and 64% for pharmacists). Results showed that doctors were unlikely to report less-serious medication errors (median value of 2 on the Likert scale). Nurses and pharmacists (median value of 5) were likely to report less-serious as well as serious medication errors despite their fears of receiving disciplinary action. All healthcare professionals were more likely to report an error as the clinical scenarios had a progressively worsening outcome for the patient.

These results suggest that among healthcare professionals, there are differing attitudes to reporting medication errors. Differing approaches are therefore required to encourage medication error reporting among different healthcare professionals. Future study is required to further investigate these findings and improve reporting rates.

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