Factors contributing to medication errors: a literature review


Ellen O’Shea BNS, DipN, RGN, RNT


Drug administration is an integral part of the nurse’s role. Responsibility for correct administration of medication rests with the nurse, yet medication errors are a persistent problem associated with nursing practice.

This review examines what constitutes a medication error and documents contributory factors in medication errors. These factors have been derived from reported medication errors and opinions of nurses as to factors which predispose to errors.

A number of definitions exist as to what constitutes a medication error. The definition used should facilitate interpretation and comparison of a wide range of research reports.

Medication errors are a multidisciplinary problem and a multidisciplinary approach is required in order to reduce the incidence of errors.

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