Medication errors in older people with mental health problems: a review

Int J Geriatr Psychiatry. 2008 Jun;23(6):564-73. doi: 10.1002/gps.1943.


Objective: To review and summarise published data on medication errors in older people with mental health problems.

Methods: A systematic review was conducted to identify studies that investigated medication errors in older people with mental health problems. MEDLINE, EMBASE, PHARMLINE, COCHRANE COLLABORATION and PsycINFO were searched electronically. Any studies identified were scrutinized for further references. The title, abstract or full text was systematically reviewed for relevance.

Results: Data were extracted from eight studies. In total, information about 728 errors (459 administration, 248 prescribing, 7 dispensing, 12 transcribing, 2 unclassified) was available. The dataset related almost exclusively to inpatients, frequently involved non-psychotropics, and the majority of the errors were not serious.

Conclusions: Due to methodology issues it was impossible to calculate overall error rates. Future research should concentrate on serious errors within community settings, and clarify potential risk factors.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Drug Prescriptions / standards
  • Humans
  • Medication Errors / prevention & control
  • Medication Errors / statistics & numerical data*
  • Mental Disorders / drug therapy*
  • Risk Factors