Medication incidents in primary care medicine: protocol of a study by the Swiss Federal Sentinel Reporting System

BMJ Open. 2015 Apr 23;5(4):e007773. doi: 10.1136/bmjopen-2015-007773.


Background/rationale: Patient safety is a major concern in healthcare systems worldwide. Although most safety research has been conducted in the inpatient setting, evidence indicates that medical errors and adverse events are a threat to patients in the primary care setting as well. Since information about the frequency and outcomes of safety incidents in primary care is required, the goals of this study are to describe the type, frequency, seasonal and regional distribution of medication incidents in primary care in Switzerland and to elucidate possible risk factors for medication incidents.

Study design and setting: We will conduct a prospective surveillance study to identify cases of medication incidents among primary care patients in Switzerland over the course of the year 2015.

Participants: Patients undergoing drug treatment by 167 general practitioners or paediatricians reporting to the Swiss Federal Sentinel Reporting System.

Inclusion criteria: Any erroneous event, as defined by the physician, related to the medication process and interfering with normal treatment course.

Exclusion criteria: Lack of treatment effect, adverse drug reactions or drug-drug or drug-disease interactions without detectable treatment error.

Primary outcome: Medication incidents.

Risk factors: Age, gender, polymedication, morbidity, care dependency, hospitalisation.

Statistical analysis: Descriptive statistics to assess type, frequency, seasonal and regional distribution of medication incidents and logistic regression to assess their association with potential risk factors. Estimated sample size: 500 medication incidents.

Limitations: We will take into account under-reporting and selective reporting among others as potential sources of bias or imprecision when interpreting the results.

Ethics and dissemination: No formal request was necessary because of fully anonymised data. The results will be published in a peer-reviewed journal.

Trial registration number: NCT0229537.

Trial registration: NCT02295371.


Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Female
  • General Practice
  • Humans
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Medication Errors / statistics & numerical data*
  • Patient Safety / statistics & numerical data*
  • Pediatrics
  • Population Surveillance
  • Primary Health Care / statistics & numerical data*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Switzerland

Associated data