Intravenous medication delivery is a complex process that poses systemic risks of errors. The objective of our study was to identify systemic defenses that can prevent in-hospital intravenous (IV) medication errors.
A systematic review adhering to Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses guidelines was conducted. We searched MEDLINE (Ovid), Scopus, CINAHL, and EMB reviews for articles published between January 2005 and June 2016. Peer-reviewed journal articles published in English were included. Two reviewers independently selected articles according to a predetermined PICO tool. The quality of studies was assessed using the Grading of Recommendations Assessment, Development and Evaluation system, and the evidence was analyzed using qualitative content analysis.
Forty-six studies from 11 countries were included in the analysis. We identified systemic defenses related to administration (n = 24 studies), prescribing (n = 8), preparation (n = 6), treatment monitoring (n = 2), and dispensing (n = 1). In addition, 5 studies explored defenses related to multiple stages of the drug delivery process. Systemic defenses including features of closed-loop medication management systems appeared in 61% of the studies, with smart pumps being the defense most widely studied (24%). The evidence quality of the included articles was limited, as 83% were graded as low quality, 13% were of moderate quality, and only 4% were of high quality.
In-hospital IV medication processes are developing toward closed-loop medication management systems. Our study provides health care organizations with preliminary knowledge about systemic defenses that can prevent IV medication errors, but more rigorous evidence is needed. There is a need for further studies to explore combinations of different systemic defenses and their effectiveness in error prevention throughout the drug delivery process.