A practical guide to the implementation of an effective incident reporting scheme to reduce medication error on the hospital ward

Int J Nurs Pract. 2002 Aug;8(4):176-83. doi: 10.1046/j.1440-172x.2002.00368.x.


This paper discusses an anonymous incident reporting scheme to reduce drug administration error on the hospital ward, as part of an effective, non-punitive, systems-focused approach to safety. Drug error is costly in terms of increased hospital stay, resources consumed, patient harm, lives lost and careers ruined. Safety initiatives that focus, not on blaming individuals, but on improving the wider system in which personnel work have been adopted in a number of branches of health care. However, in nursing, blame remains the predominant approach for dealing with error, and the ward has seen little application of the systems approach to safety. Safety interventions founded on an effective incident scheme typically pay for themselves in terms of dollar savings arising from averted harm. Recent calls for greater health-care safety require finding new ways to make drug administration safer throughout the hospital, and the scope for such safety gains on the hospital ward remains considerable.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Health Plan Implementation / standards*
  • Hospitals / standards*
  • Humans
  • Medication Errors / prevention & control
  • Medication Errors / standards*
  • Practice Guidelines as Topic / standards*
  • Risk Management / standards*