Nurse Interruptions Increase Drug Errors

SYDNEY, April 28 (UPI) — Australian researchers say the risk of drug errors go up the more nurses are interrupted.

Study leader Johanna Westbrook of the University of Sydney studied 98 nurses preparing and administering 4,271 medications to 720 patients over 500 hours in six wards in two major teaching hospitals.

The study, published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, found 19.8 percent of the drug administrations were free of any errors, with the errors becoming more severe as the number of interruptions increased.

“The converging evidence of the high rate of interruptions occurring during medication preparation and administration adds impetus to the need to develop and implement strategies to improve communication practices and to reduce unnecessary interruptions within ward environments,” the study authors said in a statement.

The researchers suggested some strategies to reduce interruptions — including the use of whiteboards or other forms of communication and having the nurses wear vests with “do not interrupt” on them while conducting medication rounds.

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