Background: Medication safety presents an ongoing challenge for nurses working in complex, fast-paced, intensive care unit (ICU) environments. Studying ICU nurse's medication management-especially medication-related events (MREs)-provides an approach to analyze and improve medication safety and quality.
Objectives: The goal of this study was to explore the utility of facilitated MRE reporting in identifying system deficiencies and the relationship between MREs and nurses' work in the ICUs.
Methods: We conducted 124 structured 4-hour observations of nurses in three different ICUs. Each observation included measurement of nurse's moment-to-moment activity and self-reports of workload and negative mood. The observer then obtained MRE reports from the nurse using a structured tool. The MREs were analyzed by three experts.
Results: MREs were reported in 35% of observations. The 60 total MREs included four medication errors and seven adverse drug events. Of the 49 remaining MREs, 65% were associated with negative patient impact. Task/process deficiencies were the most common contributory factor for MREs. MRE occurrence was correlated with increased total task volume. MREs also correlated with increased workload, especially during night shifts.
Discussion: Most of these MREs would not be captured by traditional event reporting systems. Facilitated MRE reporting provides a robust information source about potential breakdowns in medication management safety and opportunities for system improvement.