Journal Article

National study on the frequency, types, causes, and consequences of voluntarily reported emergency department medication errors.

Pham JC; Story JL; Hicks RW; Shore AD; Morlock LL; Cheung DS; Kelen GD; Pronovost PJ.

A 2006 Institute of Medicine report highlighted growing concerns about the state of emergency department (ED) care, particularly around overcrowding and its impact on safety. Medication errors are a known safety threat, and this study provides a cross-sectional perspective using reports from the MEDMARX database. Investigators found that physicians were responsible for 24% of errors while nurses were responsible for 54%. The administration phase was the most error-prone, and the most common error type was improper dose/quantity. Interestingly, computerized provider order entry was noted to cause 2.5% of the errors reported. The authors advocate for future interventions to improve medication safety in the ED. A past AHRQ WebM&M commentary discussed a near miss medication error in the ED that illustrates the many safety issues that contribute to this high-risk care setting.