According to previous literature from 2002, up to 19% of medication doses are administered in error to hospitalized patients. Presumably, we’ve improved.
Apparently, we haven’t. This is a prospective observational study by pharmacists in Pittsburgh who observed the inpatient Medical Emergency Team in operation – which in this instance, was a physician-led team with “full” critical care capabilities, as opposed to their non-physician Rapid Response Team. They observed medication administration during 50 of these calls and found that there were 1.6 errors per medication administration. Yes, they really observed more than one error per dose – but 66% of those issues involved aseptic technique. Subtracting those, they observed an error merely every other dose. 46% were prescribing errors, 28% administration technique, 14% mislabeling, 10% preparation, and 2% improper doses. The authors eventually conclude that 14% of the total non-aseptic errors were truly harmful, not just “errors”.