Paradoxical effects of a hospital-based, multi-intervention programme aimed at reducing medication round interruptions

J Nurs Manag. 2012 Apr;20(3):335-43. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2834.2012.01329.x. Epub 2012 Feb 13.


Aim: The main aim of the present study was to evaluate interruptions that occurred during medication rounds within a hospital-based, multi-intervention programme.

Background: There are no standardized ways to reduce medication interruptions during medication rounds and no guidelines or standards on the use of tabards during medication rounds.

Materials and methods: In 2006, a preliminary baseline evaluation (T0) was conducted at the hospital level observing the occurrence of interruptions during medication rounds in daily practice. Subsequently, a hospital-based policy for a multi-intervention medication round programme was implemented at of the beginning of 2008 (T1). After 18 months, an evaluation of the frequency of interruptions was repeated (T2).

Results: At T0, 298 interruptions were observed for 945 medications administered, or one for every 3.2 medications given. At T2, 385 interruptions were observed for 895 medications given, an interruption for every 2.3 medications administered (P = 0.041). At T0, the mean interruption duration per medication round was 10.48 min whereas at T2 it was 5.08 min. Patient interruptions were reduced (26.5-14.0%, P = 0.05); in spite of this effect, staff member interruptions increased (15.8-40.5%, P = 0.01).

Conclusions: With the implementation of the multi-intervention programme, the interruptions changed their pattern. While wearing the red tabard was paradoxically effective with patients, it was ineffective with other staff members.

Implications for nursing management: Before introducing new strategies, an evaluation of their appropriateness with regard to the culture of the patients and nurses is recommended: in the present study, patients seem to have considered the warning message worn by nurses as mainly intended for them.

Publication types

  • Evaluation Study

MeSH terms

  • Attention*
  • Drug Therapy / nursing*
  • Humans
  • Interprofessional Relations
  • Medication Errors / prevention & control*
  • Nurse-Patient Relations
  • Nursing Administration Research
  • Nursing Evaluation Research
  • Nursing Staff, Hospital / organization & administration*
  • Organizational Culture
  • Patient Safety
  • Safety Management / organization & administration*