Medication error reporting not indicative of patient safety

Patient Safety Monitor Insider

March 25, 2015

A comparative study at two Australian hospitals suggests that hospitals’ incident data have significant shortcomings, especially as the basis for monitoring safety over time between sites.

The study found no relationship between the number of reported medication incidents and the ‘actual’ rate of prescribing and medication administration errors observed.

Led by Professor Johanna Westbrook of Macquarie University’s Australian Institute of Health Innovation, researchers studied medication errors occurring at two large Sydney teaching hospitals by reviewing patient records and observing nurses administering drugs to patients to find out how many and what kinds of errors were being made, if staff detected these errors, and then if errors were reported to the hospitals’ incident reporting systems. They also assessed how the two hospitals differed in terms of the medication error rates observed versus the errors actually reported by staff.

“The hospital with the higher number of incident reports had lower ‘actual’ prescribing errors and vice versa. Thus in this instance the higher number of medication incidents reported reflected a lower patient risk,” said Professor Westbrook.

Continue reading the full article at Medical Xpress.