Medicine administration errors and their severity in secondary care older persons' ward: a multi-centre observational study

J Clin Nurs. 2012 Jul;21(13-14):1806-15. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2702.2011.03760.x. Epub 2011 Jul 6.


Aim and objectives: To assess the severity of medicine administration errors to older patients.

Background: Severity of medicine administration errors has been determined in a variety of settings but not in care-of-older-person wards, which this study aims to do.

Design: Undisguised observational study.

Participants: Sixty-two nurses were observed administering oral medicines to 625 patients.

Interventions: Data were collected on the preparation and administration of oral medicines. Thirty-five cases of error were selected and analysed for their severity.

Results: In the 65 drug rounds observed 2129 potential drug administrations were made to 625 patients, of which 817 doses (38.4%) were given incorrectly (95% CI = 36.3-40.4). The overall mean harm score of the 35 incidents analysed was 4.1 (range 1.1-8.6, SD 1.8) on a scale of 0-10.

Conclusions: The number and severity of MAEs observed is high compared with previous studies.

Relevance to clinical practice: There is a need to decrease the number and severity of MAEs, by increasing nurse awareness and error reporting.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Geriatric Nursing
  • Humans
  • Medication Errors*