The Effect of a Five-Part Intervention to Decrease Omitted Medications

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Nursing administrators reported that medication administration errors had continued despite the use of bar code medication administration, especially in terms of omitted medications. Nurse administrators within the study hospital identified a need to add back up safety systems in order to reduce the number of omitted medications. Interruptions and distractions were identified as leading constraints to accurate medication administration.


This pre-post quality improvement study used a convenience sample of nurses on one medical surgical unit to observe the effect of specific protocols to decrease interruptions and distractions during medication administration. Nurses′ were observed during medication administration cycles, and the medication time was measured in hours and minutes using a stop watch. The number of distractions and interruptions was counted by category. A participant survey was used to determine nurses perceptions of distractions and interruptions experienced.


The five-part intervention decreased nurses interruptions and distractions by 84% compared with the control group. The results indicated the type of distractions and interruptions nurses typically experience during medication administration was highest from conversation in the environment (M = 5.0 ± 3.4) and by other personnel (M = 6.38 ± 2.6).


This process improvement project determined that a five-part protocol would reduce distractions and interruptions for nurses, save time in the process, and reduce omitted medications. Other visible symbols such as a vest with wording may show different results when combined with the other elements of the protocol. Anecdotal comments from nurses during and after observations divulged workplace issues surrounding medication delivery that may need investigation.

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