Factors contributing to medication errors: a literature review

J Clin Nurs. 1999 Sep;8(5):496-504. doi: 10.1046/j.1365-2702.1999.00284.x.


Drug administration is an integral part of the nurse's role. Responsibility for correct administration of medication rests with the nurse, yet medication errors are a persistent problem associated with nursing practice. This review examines what constitutes a medication error and documents contributory factors in medication errors. These factors have been derived from reported medication errors and opinions of nurses as to factors which predispose to errors. A number of definitions exist as to what constitutes a medication error. The definition used should facilitate interpretation and comparison of a wide range of research reports. Medication errors are a multidisciplinary problem and a multidisciplinary approach is required in order to reduce the incidence of errors.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Attitude of Health Personnel
  • Clinical Competence / standards
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice
  • Humans
  • Medication Errors / prevention & control
  • Medication Errors / statistics & numerical data*
  • Medication Systems / standards*
  • Nursing Evaluation Research
  • Nursing Staff / education*
  • Nursing Staff / psychology*
  • Risk Assessment
  • Risk Factors
  • Risk Management
  • Workload