Literature Review on Medication Errors


Medication administration is a complex process involving a myriad of individuals in an increasingly fast-paced and fragmented health care environment. Medication errors have been identified as the most common type of error affecting the safety of patients and the most common single preventable cause of adverse events (National Medicines Information Centre 2001). Barker et al (2002) found that medication errors occur in approximately one out of every five doses in a typical hospital, with Scott (2002) reporting a 500% rise in drug errors over the previous decade. This led to approximately 1200 deaths in England and Wales in 2001 occurring as a result of drug errors alone. Drug errors have been found to occur in 49% of drug administration procedures (Taxis & Barber 2003a). However, administration is only one part of the medication management process, and such errors may occur as a consequence of errors in other aspects of the medication process such as selection, procurement, storage, prescribing, ordering and transcribing (Fijn et al 2002, The Joint Commission 2007).
Attempts to document the nature of medication errors are evident in the literature (O_Shea 1999, Armitage & Knapman 2003, Lasseter & Warnick 2003, McBride-Henry & Foureur 2006, Fry & Dacey 2007a,b).

Medication errors
A medication error has been described as a “deviation from a physician order” (Mayo & Duncan 2004). An alternative definition is ‘a preventable mistake in prescribing or delivering medication to patients’ (Lasseter & Warnick 2003). National Coordinating Council for Medication Error Reporting and Prevention (NCC MERP 2007) definition is.

“A medication error is any preventable event that may cause or lead to inappropriate medication use or patient harm while the medication is in the control of the health care professional, patient, or consumer. Such events may be related to professional practice, health care products, procedures, and...