Comparison of intensive care unit medication errors reported to the United States' MedMarx and the United Kingdom's National Reporting and Learning System: a cross-sectional study

Am J Med Qual. Jan-Feb 2014;29(1):61-9. doi: 10.1177/1062860613482964. Epub 2013 May 8.


The objective was to compare the characteristics of medication errors reported to 2 national error reporting systems by conducting a cross-sectional analysis of errors reported from adult intensive care units to the UK National Reporting and Learning System and the US MedMarx system. Outcome measures were error types, severity of patient harm, stage of medication process, and involved medications. The authors analyzed 2837 UK error reports and 56 368 US reports. Differences were observed between UK and US errors for wrong dose (44% vs 29%), omitted dose (8.6% vs 27%), and stage of medication process (prescribing: 14% vs 49%; administration: 71% vs 42%). Moderate/severe harm or death was reported in 4.9% of UK versus 3.4% of US errors. Gentamicin was cited in 7.4% of the UK versus 0.7% of the US reports (odds ratio = 9.25). There were differences in the types of errors reported and the medications most often involved. These differences warrant further examination.

Keywords: critical care; hospital incident reporting; medication errors; risk management.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Humans
  • Intensive Care Units / standards
  • Intensive Care Units / statistics & numerical data*
  • Medication Errors / adverse effects
  • Medication Errors / statistics & numerical data*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Management / statistics & numerical data*
  • United Kingdom / epidemiology
  • United States / epidemiology