Medication Errors in Surgery: A Classification Taxonomy and a Pilot Study in Postcall Residents

J Surg Res. 2021 Apr 10;264:402-407. doi: 10.1016/j.jss.2021.03.007. Online ahead of print.

Abstract

Introduction: The post-call state in postgraduate medical trainees is associated with impaired decision-making and increased medical errors. An association between post-call state and medication prescription errors for surgery residents is yet to be established. Our objective was to determine whether post-call state is associated with increased proportion of medication prescription errors committed by surgery residents in an academic hospital without a computerized physician order entry (CPOE) system.

Methods: This prospective observational study was conducted at a tertiary academic hospital between June 28 and August 31, 2017. It compared the proportion of medication prescription errors committed by surgery residents in their post-call (PC) and no-call (NC) states. A novel taxonomy was developed to classify medication prescription errors.

Results: Sixteen of twenty-one eligible residents (76%) participated in this study. Self-reported hours of sleep per night was significantly higher in the NC group compared to the PC group (6(4-8) vs 2(0-4) hours, P < 0.01). PC residents committed a significantly higher proportion of medication prescription errors versus NC residents (9.2% vs 3.2%; p=0.04). Decision-making and prescription-writing errors comprised 33% and 67% of errors, respectively.

Conclusions: The post-call state in surgery residents is associated with a significantly higher proportion of medication prescription errors in a hospital without a CPOE system. Decision-making and prescription-writing errors could potentially be addressed by additional educational interventions.

Keywords: Medication errors; Patient safety; Postgraduate medical education; Prescriptions; Surgery education.