Identification and verification of critical performance dimensions. Phase 1 of the systematic process redesign of drug distribution

Pharm World Sci. 2003 Jun;25(3):118-25. doi: 10.1023/a:1024020902064.


Background: Worldwide patient safety has become a major social policy problem for healthcare organisations. As in other organisations, the patients in our hospital also suffer from an inadequate distribution process, as becomes clear from incident reports involving medication errors. Medisch Spectrum Twente is a top primary-care, clinical, teaching hospital. The hospital pharmacy takes care of 1070 internal beds and 1120 beds in an affiliated psychiatric hospital and nursing homes.

Objective: In the beginning of 1999, our pharmacy group started a large interdisciplinary research project to develop a safe, effective and efficient drug distribution system by using systematic process redesign. The process redesign includes both organisational and technological components. This article describes the identification and verification of critical performance dimensions for the design of drug distribution processes in hospitals (phase 1 of the systematic process redesign of drug distribution).

Methods: Based on reported errors and related causes, we suggested six generic performance domains. To assess the role of the performance dimensions, we used three approaches: flowcharts, interviews with stakeholders and review of the existing performance using time studies and medication error studies.

Conclusions: We were able to set targets for costs, quality of information, responsiveness, employee satisfaction, and degree of innovation. We still have to establish what drug distribution system, in respect of quality and cost-effectiveness, represents the best and most cost-effective way of preventing medication errors. We intend to develop an evaluation model, using the critical performance dimensions as a starting point. This model can be used as a simulation template to compare different drug distribution concepts in order to define the differences in quality and cost-effectiveness.

MeSH terms

  • Attitude of Health Personnel
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Medication Errors / prevention & control
  • Medication Errors / statistics & numerical data*
  • Medication Systems, Hospital / organization & administration*
  • Netherlands / epidemiology
  • Nursing Staff, Hospital / organization & administration
  • Nursing Staff, Hospital / psychology
  • Surveys and Questionnaires