Medication Administration Time Study (MATS): nursing staff performance of medication administration

J Nurs Adm. 2009 May;39(5):204-10. doi: 10.1097/NNA.0b013e3181a23d6d.


Objective: The aim of this study was to develop and test a method for assessing nursing effort and workflow in the medication administration process.

Background: Thousands of patients die each year from medication errors, and hospitals strive for error reduction. Bar-coding medication administration systems have been proposed as a solution; however, many hospitals lack the necessary pre-implementation workflow process data on medication administration processes to evaluate the effectiveness of their current systems.

Method: A descriptive observation study of 151 nurses during 980 unique medication observations in medical-surgical units at a rural hospital, an urban community hospital, and an academic medical center was conducted.

Results: Nurses averaged more than 15 minutes on each medication pass and were at risk of an interruption or distraction with every medication pass.

Conclusion: System challenges faced by nurses during the medication administration process lead to threats to patient safety, work-arounds, workflow inefficiencies, and distractions during a time when focus is most needed to prevent error.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Evaluation Study

MeSH terms

  • Academic Medical Centers
  • Documentation
  • Drug Therapy / nursing*
  • Efficiency, Organizational
  • Employee Performance Appraisal
  • Hospitals, Community
  • Hospitals, Rural
  • Hospitals, Urban
  • Humans
  • Medical Order Entry Systems / organization & administration
  • Medical Records Systems, Computerized / organization & administration
  • Medication Errors / nursing
  • Medication Errors / prevention & control
  • Medication Errors / statistics & numerical data
  • Medication Systems, Hospital / organization & administration*
  • Nurse's Role*
  • Nursing Administration Research
  • Nursing Staff, Hospital / organization & administration*
  • Safety Management
  • Systems Analysis
  • Time and Motion Studies
  • Workload