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Nurse's Perspectives on Causes and Barriers to Reporting Medication Administration Errors

Fahd Alblowi, Hind Alaidi, Hanadi Dakhilallah and Amal Alamrani

Background: Improving patient safety is essential to protect patient rights, provide optimum quality of care, and enhance health care policy. Globally, there is increasing concern regarding medication administration errors, especially because they are underreported, and they have severe potential consequences for patients. A few studies focused on causes and barriers to reporting medication administration errors in health care settings, identifying workplace environment and blame culture as the main contributing factors to medication errors themselves and underreporting of such cases. Purposes: To investigate barriers to medications administration errors reporting and to identify the reasons for medication administration errors among nurses in Saudi Arabia. Methods: A prospective descriptive cross-sectional study was implemented in multiple settings in the Tabuk region of Saudi Arabia. A total number of 321 nurses participated in the study, filling in the Self-Administered Scale of Modified Medication Administration Error to identify the most frequent medication errors they experienced, and their perceived barriers to reporting medication administration errors. Results: Nurses identified the top five reasons for medication administration errors occurring as: Unit staffing levels are inadequate, Physicians’ medication orders are not clear, Physicians’ medication orders are not legible, Different medications look alike, and Nurses get pulled between teams and from other units. Organizational, personal, and profession barriers were blamed for not reporting medication administration errors. Conclusion/ implications for practice: Reporting comprehensive medication administration error data is crucial to address systemic flaws and avoid medication administration errors occurrence, in order to improve patient safety. Decision makers must foster a non-punitive environment in hospitals in Saudi Arabia. Further, there is a need for educational programs about medication administration errors for nurses. In addition, introducing a computerized physicians’ order entry system to reduce medication administration errors in health care settings is highly recommended in Saudi Arabia.