Identifying the latent failures underpinning medication administration errors: an exploratory study.
ABSTRACT: OBJECTIVES:The primary aim of this article was to identify the latent failures that are perceived to underpin medication errors. STUDY SETTING:The study was conducted within three medical wards in a hospital in the United Kingdom. STUDY DESIGN:The study employed a cross-sectional qualitative design. DATA COLLECTION METHODS:Interviews were conducted with 12 nurses and eight managers. Interviews were transcribed and subject to thematic content analysis. A two-step inter-rater comparison tested the reliability of the themes. PRINCIPAL FINDINGS:Ten latent failures were identified based on the analysis of the interviews. These were ward climate, local working environment, workload, human resources, team communication, routine procedures, bed management, written policies and procedures, supervision and leadership, and training. The discussion focuses on ward climate, the most prevalent theme, which is conceptualized here as interacting with failures in the nine other organizational structures and processes. CONCLUSIONS:This study is the first of its kind to identify the latent failures perceived to underpin medication errors in a systematic way. The findings can be used as a platform for researchers to test the impact of organization-level patient safety interventions and to design proactive error management tools and incident reporting systems in hospitals.
Project description:BACKGROUND:The increasing adoption of hospital electronic prescribing and medication administration (ePA) systems has driven a wealth of research around the impact on patient safety. Yet relatively little research has sought to understand the effects on staff, particularly pharmacists. We aimed to investigate the effects of ePA on pharmacists' activities, including interactions with patients and health professionals, and their perceptions of medication safety risks. METHODS:A mixed methods study comprising quantitative direct observations of ward pharmacists before and after implementation of ePA in an English hospital, and semi-structured interviews post-ePA. Quantitative data comprised multi-dimensional work activity sampling to establish the proportion of time ward pharmacists spent on different tasks, with whom and where. These data were extrapolated to estimate task duration. Qualitative interviews with pharmacists explored perceived impact on (i) ward activities, (ii) interactions with patients and different health professionals, (iii) locations where tasks were carried out, and (iv) medication errors. RESULTS:Observations totalled 116 h and 50 min. Task duration analysis suggested screening inpatient medication increased by 16 mins per 10 patients reviewed (p = 0.002), and searching for paper drug charts or computer decreased by 2 mins per 10 patients reviewed (p = 0.001). Pharmacists mainly worked alone (58% of time pre- and 65% post-ePA, p = 0.17), with patient interactions reducing from 5 to 2% of time (p = 0.03). Seven main themes were identified from the interviews, underpinned by a core explanatory concept around the enhanced and shifting role of the ward pharmacist post-ePA. Pharmacists perceived there to be a number of valuable safety features with ePA. However, paradoxically, some of these may have also inadvertently contributed to medication errors. CONCLUSION:This study provides quantitative and qualitative insights into the effects of implementing ePA on ward pharmacists' activities. Some tasks took longer while others reduced, and pharmacists may spend less time with patients with ePA. Pharmacists valued a number of safety features associated with ePA but also perceived an overall increase in medication risk. Pharmacy staff demonstrated a degree of resilience to ensure 'business as usual' by enhancing and adapting their role.
Project description:OBJECTIVE:Medication administration errors (MAEs) are a common risk to patient safety in mental health hospitals, but an absence of in-depth studies to understand the underlying causes of these errors limits the development of effective remedial interventions. This study aimed to investigate the causes of MAEs affecting inpatients in a mental health National Health Service (NHS) hospital in the North West of England. METHODS:Registered and student mental health nurses working in inpatient psychiatric units were identified using a combination of direct advertisement and incident reports and invited to participate in semi-structured interviews utilising the critical incident technique. Interviews were designed to capture the participants' experiences of inpatient MAEs. All interviews were transcribed verbatim and subject to framework analysis to illuminate the underlying active failures, error/violation-provoking conditions and latent failures according to Reason's model of accident causation. RESULTS:A total of 20 participants described 26 MAEs (including 5 near misses) during the interviews. The majority of MAEs were skill-based slips and lapses (n = 16) or mistakes (n = 5), and were caused by a variety of interconnecting error/violation-provoking conditions relating to the patient, medicines used, medicines administration task, health care team, individual nurse and working environment. Some of these local conditions had origins in wider organisational latent failures. Recurrent and influential themes included inadequate staffing levels, unbalanced staff skill mix, interruptions/distractions, concerns with how the medicines administration task was approached and problems with communication. CONCLUSIONS:To our knowledge this is the first published in-depth qualitative study to investigate the underlying causes of specific MAEs in a mental health hospital. Our findings revealed that MAEs may arise due to multiple interacting error and violation provoking conditions and latent 'system' failures, which emphasises the complexity of this everyday task facing practitioners in clinical practice. Future research should focus on developing and testing interventions which address key local and wider organisational 'systems' failures to reduce error.
Project description:OBJECTIVES:Study objectives were to investigate the prevalence and causes of prescribing errors amongst foundation doctors (i.e. junior doctors in their first (F1) or second (F2) year of post-graduate training), describe their knowledge and experience of prescribing errors, and explore their self-efficacy (i.e. confidence) in prescribing. METHOD:A three-part mixed-methods design was used, comprising: prospective observational study; semi-structured interviews and cross-sectional survey. All doctors prescribing in eight purposively selected hospitals in Scotland participated. All foundation doctors throughout Scotland participated in the survey. The number of prescribing errors per patient, doctor, ward and hospital, perceived causes of errors and a measure of doctors' self-efficacy were established. RESULTS:4710 patient charts and 44,726 prescribed medicines were reviewed. There were 3364 errors, affecting 1700 (36.1%) charts (overall error rate: 7.5%; F1:7.4%; F2:8.6%; consultants:6.3%). Higher error rates were associated with : teaching hospitals (p<0.001), surgical (p?=?<0.001) or mixed wards (0.008) rather thanmedical ward, higher patient turnover wards (p<0.001), a greater number of prescribed medicines (p<0.001) and the months December and June (p<0.001). One hundred errors were discussed in 40 interviews. Error causation was multi-factorial; work environment and team factors were particularly noted. Of 548 completed questionnaires (national response rate of 35.4%), 508 (92.7% of respondents) reported errors, most of which (328 (64.6%) did not reach the patient. Pressure from other staff, workload and interruptions were cited as the main causes of errors. Foundation year 2 doctors reported greater confidence than year 1 doctors in deciding the most appropriate medication regimen. CONCLUSIONS:Prescribing errors are frequent and of complex causation. Foundation doctors made more errors than other doctors, but undertook the majority of prescribing, making them a key target for intervention. Contributing causes included work environment, team, task, individual and patient factors. Further work is needed to develop and assess interventions that address these.
Project description:<h4>Problem</h4>The NHS is perceived to have a poor record of learning from incidents. Despite efforts of the Medical Devices Agency, which issues safety warnings, adverse incidents with medical devices continue to occur, some of which result in serious injury or death through device failures, user errors, and organisational problems.<h4>Design</h4>Introduction of feedback notes on a supportive investigation that seeks to determine latent factors, immediate triggers, causes, and positive actions taken by staff that minimised adverse consequences.<h4>Background and setting</h4>Medical physics department providing equipment management services in a major NHS teaching trust.<h4>Key measures for improvement</h4>Reduction in repetitions of adverse incidents and improved staff competency in using devices.<h4>Strategy for change</h4>A feedback note was developed to describe the incident and generic details of the equipment, summarise the investigation (focusing on latent causes and immediate triggers), and describe lessons to be learnt and positive actions by staff.<h4>Effects of change</h4>Feedback notes have been used in teaching sessions and given to ward link nurses. Despite being new, the positive supportive approach has encouraged an open reporting culture.<h4>Lessons learnt</h4>Adverse incidents are typically caused by alignment of different factors, but good practice can prevent errors becoming incidents. Careful analysis of incidents reveals both the multifactorial causes and the good practices that can help minimise repetitions.
Project description:BACKGROUND:Patients' involvement in patient safety has increased in healthcare. Use of checklists may improve patient outcome in surgery, though few have attempted to engage patients' use of surgical checklist. To identify risk elements of complications based on patients' and healthcare workers' experiences is warranted. This study aims to identify what the patients and healthcare workers find to be the risk elements that should be included in a patient-driven surgical patient safety checklist. METHOD:A qualitative study design where post-operative patients, surgeons, ward physicians, ward nurses, and secretaries from five surgical specialties took part in focus group interviews. Eleven focus groups were conducted including 25 post-operative patients and 27 healthcare workers at one tertiary teaching hospital and one community hospital in Norway. Based on their experiences, participants were asked to identify perceived risks before and after surgery. The interviews were analysed using content analysis. RESULTS:Safety risk factors were categorised as pre-operative information: pre-operative preparations, post-operative information, post-operative plans and follow-up. The subcategories under pre-operative information and preparations were: contact information, medication safety, health status, optimising health, dental status, read information, preparation two weeks before surgery, inform your surgical ward, planning your own discharge, preparation on admission and just before surgery. The subcategories under post-operative information, further plans and follow-up were: prevention and complications, restriction and activity, medication safety, pain relief, stomach functions, further care and appointments. Both healthcare workers and patients express the need for a surgical patient safety checklist. CONCLUSION:A broad spectre of risk elements for a patient safety checklist were identified. Developing a surgical safety checklist based on these risk elements might reduce complications and unwanted errors. TRAIL REGISTRATION:The study is registered as part of a clinical trial in ClinicalTrials.gov: NCT03105713.
Project description:<h4>Background</h4>Follow-up in general practice on medication initiated during hospitalisation is often perceived to be inadequate, which leads to unintended drug interaction and over- or underdosage of medication. Little is known about General Practitioners (GPs') views on medication changes during the transition from hospital to primary care. We conducted a qualitative interview study to understand GPs' views on the medication changes made for their patients by hospital physicians in a geriatric ward and the GPs' actions after discharge.<h4>Methods</h4>Qualitative semi-structured interviews comprising ten GPs from general practices in the Region of Southern Denmark, using a phenomenological approach. The GPs were selected strategically based on the principle of maximum variation. The analysis process was a cross-sectional analysis based on a phenomenological analysis.<h4>Results</h4>The GPs identified many reasons for the lack of medication continuation, including miscommunication between hospital doctors and GPs and delayed discharge letters. Several factors were involved, including patients not taking responsibility for their medication, no structure for follow-up visits to their GPs and for the renewal of their prescriptions.<h4>Conclusion</h4>The main reason for the poor continuity of medication changes for geriatric patients at sector transition was neither the GPs' deliberate actions of removing the patients' medications, nor the patients' lack of compliance or of willingness to take the medication. It is largely due to procedural errors in the follow-up on the patient after discharge, due to the lack of a structured process and due to miscommunication between the primary sector and the hospital.
Project description:Upon graduation, physiotherapists are required to manage clinical caseloads involving deteriorating patients with complex conditions. In particular, emergency on-call physiotherapists are required to provide respiratory/cardio-respiratory/cardiothoracic physiotherapy, out of normal working hours, without senior physiotherapist support. To optimise patient safety, physiotherapists are required to function within complex clinical environments, drawing on their knowledge and skills (technical and non-technical), maintaining situational awareness and filtering unwanted stimuli from the environment. Prior to this study, the extent to which final-year physiotherapy students were able to manage an acutely deteriorating patient in a simulation context and recognise errors in their own practice was unknown.A focused video-reflexive ethnography study was undertaken to explore behaviours, error recognition abilities and personal experiences of 21 final-year (pre-registration) physiotherapy students from one higher education institution. Social constructivism and complexity theoretical perspectives informed the methodological design of the study. Video and thematic analysis of 12 simulation scenarios and video-reflexive interviews were undertaken.Participants worked within the professional standards of physiotherapy practice expected of entry-level physiotherapists. Students reflected appropriate responses to their own and others' actions in the midst of uncertainty of the situation and physiological disturbances that unfolded during the scenario. However, they demonstrated a limited independent ability to recognise errors. Latent errors, active failures, error-producing factors and a series of effective defences to mitigate errors were identified through video analysis. Perceived influential factors affecting student performance within the scenario were attributed to aspects of academic and placement learning and the completion of a voluntary acute illness management course. The perceived value of the simulation scenario was enhanced by the opportunity to review their own simulation video with realism afforded by the scenario design.This study presents a unique insight into the experiences, skills, attitudes, behaviours and error recognition abilities of pre-registration physiotherapy students managing an acutely deteriorating patient in a simulation context. Findings of this research provide valuable insights to inform future research regarding physiotherapy practice, integration of educational methods to augment patient safety awareness and participant-led innovations in safe healthcare practice.
Project description:<h4>Background</h4>Relatively little is known about how scorecards presenting performance indicators influence medication safety. We evaluated the effects of implementing a ward-level medication safety scorecard piloted in two English NHS hospitals and factors influencing these.<h4>Methods</h4>We used a mixed methods, controlled before and after design. At baseline, wards were audited on medication safety indicators; during the 'feedback' phase scorecard results were presented to intervention wards on a weekly basis over 7 weeks. We interviewed 49 staff, including clinicians and managers, about scorecard implementation.<h4>Results</h4>At baseline, 18.7% of patients (total n=630) had incomplete allergy documentation; 53.4% of patients (n=574) experienced a drug omission in the preceding 24 h; 22.5% of omitted doses were classified as 'critical'; 22.1% of patients (n=482) either had ID wristbands not reflecting their allergy status or no ID wristband; and 45.3% of patients (n=237) had drugs that were either unlabelled or labelled for another patient in their drug lockers. The quantitative analysis found no significant improvement in intervention wards following scorecard feedback. Interviews suggested staff were interested in scorecard feedback and described process and culture changes. Factors influencing scorecard implementation included 'normalisation' of errors, study duration, ward leadership, capacity to engage and learning preferences.<h4>Discussion</h4>Presenting evidence-based performance indicators may potentially influence staff behaviour. Several practical and cultural factors may limit feedback effectiveness and should be considered when developing improvement interventions. Quality scorecards should be designed with care, attending to evidence of indicators' effectiveness and how indicators and overall scorecard composition fit the intended audience.
Project description:Information technology (IT) systems are being utilised with increasing frequency at the prescribing and dispensing stage of the medicines-use process in UK hospitals. However, much less development has taken place with regard to the implementation of IT systems at the administration stage of medicines-use. A technology that has been implemented widely at the administration stage in North American hospitals is the automated dispensing cabinet (ADC), which has been shown to reduce nurse medication administration errors and reduce the time that nurses spend administering medication. The current project was undertaken to assess whether these benefits would be realised with the introduction of an ADC on an inpatient ward in a UK mental health hospital. Nurses were observed administering medication before and after the implementation of an ADC on a ward at East London NHS Foundation Trust (ELFT). The findings from these observations showed that the use of the ADC led to a reduction in the medication administration error rate from 8.9% to 7.2%; however, this reduction was solely accounted for by a reduction in errors of negligible clinical severity. The types of administration errors noted after implementation of the ADC remained largely unchanged from beforehand. The ADC was found to reduce the amount of time that nurses spent administering medication from 2.94 min per dose to 2.37 min per dose. It is estimated that this reduction could generate around 66 min of additional free nursing time per ward per day. As a standalone device, the ADC was found to improve the efficiency of the medicines-use process, but had little meaningful effect on medication administration error rate at ELFT. However, it could be anticipated that additional benefit with regard to reducing medication administration errors may be demonstrated if the ADC was used in combination with other IT systems, such as electronic prescribing.
Project description:<h4>Background</h4>Medication charting errors occur often and can be harmful for patients. Interventions to improve charting errors have demonstrated some success particularly if the intervention uses multiple approaches including an education component. The aim of this pilot study was to determine whether a multi-faceted intervention, including education of junior doctors and weekday re-charting could reduce in-hospital charting error.<h4>Methods</h4>Medication charts (n?=?579) of all patients admitted to the medical ward of a medium sized regionally-based hospital in Australia over nine months (baseline and during intervention) were inspected for errors. The intervention ran for three months and involved implementation of a National Inpatient Medication Chart targeted error tool with eight targeted charting requirements which was used for visual reminders in the ward and training of junior doctors. In addition, mid-weekly re-charting (MOWER) was performed by a senior and junior doctor team.<h4>Results</h4>The mean number of charting requirement errors significantly reduced during the intervention by 26% from 4.6?±?1.3 to 3.4?±?1.7 per chart (p?<?0.001). Re-chart errors reduced on average by 50% (4.4?±?1.4 to 2.2?±?1.7 per chart, p?<?0.001) and primary (initial) charts by 20% (4.6?±?1.3 to 3.7?±?1.5 per chart, p?<?0.001) during the intervention. Failing to provide indication information for a drug, prescriber name, and failing to use generic rather than brand names were the categories with the most errors at baseline and also showed the largest error reductions during the intervention.<h4>Conclusions</h4>A multi-intervention including education of junior doctors, visual reminders and midweek re-charting are effective in reducing the rate of charting errors. We advise that a larger study is now conducted using the same multi-intervention strategy in different ward settings to evaluate feasibility and sustainability of this intervention.