Study of Hospitals Finds Several Daily ‘Potential Harmful’ Medication Errors
A new study of hospitals has found an average of more than 40 "potentially harmful" medication errors per day, the AP/Baltimore Sun reports. In the study, published in today's issue of the journal Archives of Internal Medicine, researchers at Auburn University analyzed data from 36 hospitals and nursing homes in Colorado and Georgia over an 81-day period in 1999. The study included hospitals accredited by the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations, nonaccredited hospitals and nursing facilities. The study found medication errors in about 20% of the doses administered in a "typical" 300-bed facility; researchers considered 7% of the errors "potentially harmful." According to the study, accredited and nonaccredited hospitals had similar rates of medication errors. The study, which focused on "administering errors" made by nurses and other hospital staff members, found that the "most common" errors included "giving hospitalized patients medication at the wrong time or not at all," the AP/Sun reports. The study did not address death or injury data. Kenneth Barker, the study's lead author and a professor of pharmacy care systems at Auburn, said, "It's a major problem, not a minor problem, and it doesn't lend itself to an easy solution" (AP/Baltimore Sun, 9/9). The study is available online .This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.