Drug :: Rutgers College of Nursing faculty member explores medication errors

Rutgers College of Nursing faculty member Linda Flynn is conducting a study to explore the effects of nurse staffing, work environment and safety technology on the frequency of nonintercepted medication errors in 17 New Jersey hospitals.

Funded by a two-year $308,254 grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the study?s focus is to determine the best practices for reducing non-intercepted medication errors.

Non-intercepted medication errors are the leading cause of adverse patient events in hospitals, resulting in more than 7,000 inpatient deaths per year, according to Flynn, assistant professor at the College of Nursing at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey.

?Medication errors can originate from a variety of sources such as the physician who writes the order, the pharmacist that provides the medication, or the nurse who administers the medication,? said Flynn, a Center Valley, PA resident. ?Regardless of the point of error origin, nurses are the ?safety net? who identify and intercept many medication errors before they reach the patient and can cause harm. We want to find out what the factors are that contribute to the failure of this invaluable nursing safety net.?

The study will begin in the fall by interviewing approximately 100 selected staff registered nurses who practice in medical/surgical units in 17 New Jersey hospitals and asking them to identify factors that facilitate or hinder their efforts to identify and intercept medication errors.

A few months later, phase two of the study will be implemented in which more than 1,000 registered nurses working in medical/surgical units will be asked to complete a short survey, asking them about care processes, pharmacist collaboration and the practice environment in their units. Hospital pharmacists will also receive a survey asking them about the unitization of medication safety technologies in each of the medical/surgical units in their hospitals. Information regarding nurse staffing levels on medical/surgical units will be provided by each participating hospital.

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