International Practice Development Journal


Title of ArticleFamilies, nurses and organisations contributing factors to medication administration error in paediatrics: a literature review
Type of ArticleCritical Review of Literature
Author/sAlbara Alomari, Val Wilson, Patricia M. Davidson and Joanne Lewis
ReferenceVolume 5, Issue 1, Article 7
Date of PublicationMay 2015
Keywordschildren, error, families, medication administration, nurses, organisation

Background: Medication error is the most common adverse event for hospitalised children and can lead to significant harm. Despite decades of research and implementation of a number of initiatives, the error rates continue to rise, particularly those associated with administration.

Objectives: The objective of this literature review is to explore the factors involving nurses, families and healthcare systems that impact on medication administration errors in paediatric patients.

Design: A review was undertaken of studies that reported on factors that contribute to a rise or fall in medication administration errors, from family, nurse and organisational perspectives. The following databases were searched: Medline, Embase, CINAHL and the Cochrane library. The title, abstract and full article were reviewed for relevance. Articles were excluded if they were not research studies, they related to medications and not medication administration errors or they referred to medical errors rather than medication errors.

Results: A total of 15 studies met the inclusion criteria. The factors contributing to medication administration errors are communication failure between the parents and healthcare professionals, nurse workload, failure to adhere to policy and guidelines, interruptions, inexperience and insufficient nurse education from organisations. Strategies that were reported to reduce errors were double-checking by two nurses, implementing educational sessions, use of computerised prescribing and barcoding administration systems. Yet despite such interventions, errors persist. The review highlighted families that have a central role in caring for the child and therefore are key to the administration process,  but have largely been ignored in research studies relating to medication administration.

Conclusions: While there is a consensus about the factors that contribute to errors, sustainable and effective solutions remain elusive. To date, families have not been included as key stakeholders in researching or developing effective interventions to reduce medication administration errors.

Implications for practice:

  • Future solutions to reduce medication errors need to take into account staffing levels, skill-mix, stress and workload
  • Organisations need to provide appropriate policies and guidelines as well as access to supportive technology and ongoing educational support aimed at reducing errors
  • Engaging nurses, doctors, pharmacists and, most importantly, families in developing practice through person-centred approaches is vital in order to improve the culture of medication safety and reduce medication errors

This article by Albara Alomari, Val Wilson, Patricia M. Davidson and Joanne Lewis is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial 3.0 License.

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