This study aimed to compare medication administration errors detected by 3 different methods in terms of severity, type, and contributing factors.
The study was performed in one university hospital in Finland. A convenience sample of medication administration errors (n = 451) reported on incident reports or detected by reviewing randomly selected patient records via the Global Trigger Tool method and direct observations of patient record reviews were collected for reanalysis. The severity of the medication administration errors, the types thereof, and factors contributing to such errors were reclassified using the National Coordinating Council for Medication Error Reporting and Prevention’s taxonomy of medication errors.
The observational method revealed fewer medication errors that were more likely to cause harm to patients than did the incident reports or the Global Trigger Tool method. The incident reports and the Global Trigger Tool method mainly revealed wrong doses, whereas most medication administration errors in the observational data were errors involving the use of the incorrect technique. In addition, each method produced different information regarding the factors contributing to medication administration errors.
Based on the study’s findings and the limitations of each method, a combination of different methods should be used to discover representative information concerning medication administration errors. To increase medication administration safety, advanced multiprofessional collaboration, effective communication, adequate skills, more systematic medication processes, and distraction-free work environments are needed.