Interruptions Cause Nurses to Make Medication Errors

Matthew L. White
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Founder & Partner of Louisville Personal Injury Law Firm Gray & White Law

Posted on Jan 04, 2011

A study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine sheds light on the direct correlation between the interruptions a nurse sustains and the number of medication errors those interruptions cause.  According to Business Week, four interruptions during a single drug administration doubled the likelihood that a patient would experience a major mishap.

The study focused on 98 nurses in Australia.  The nurses were observed administering 4271 medications to 720 patients over a 2 year period.  It was found that only 1 in 5 (19.8%) of those administrations was error free. 

The nurses experienced interruptions in 53.1% of the administrations.  Each interruption led to a 12.1% increase in procedural failures, such as neglecting to check a patient name against their chart or administering medication at the wrong time.  More critical clinical errors were made in 12.7% of the interruptions.  Clinical errors included patients receiving more or not enough medication, or in some instances the wrong medication all together.

Julie Kliger, program director of the Integrated Nurse Leadership Program at the University of California, San Francisco, suggested that complacency is a major factor in medication errors. 
"We need to reframe this in a new light, which is, it's an important, critical function," Kliger said. "We need to give it the respect that it is due because it is high volume, high risk and, if we don't do it right, there's patient harm and it costs money."

If you have been injured by a medical error, you need to contact the experienced medical malpractice attorneys at the law office of Gray and White Law.  Call them today at 502-634-8767 or 800-210-8942 for a free legal consultation.

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