Facilitated Nurse Medication-Related Event Reporting to Improve Medication Management Quality and Safety in Intensive Care Units

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Abstract

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.

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