Temp Staff Errors More Harmful Than Those of Permanent Staff

Medication errors by temporary staff more likely to be life-threatening or harmful

MONDAY, Sept. 5 (HealthDay News) -- Emergency department medication errors associated with temporary staff are more likely to reach the patient and result in harm compared with errors associated with permanent staff, according to a study published in the July/August issue of the Journal for Healthcare Quality.

Julius Cuong Pham, M.D., Ph.D., from the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore, and colleagues investigated whether temporary-staff medication errors are correlated with more severe harm than permanent-staff medication errors in the emergency department. Data were collected through a national Internet-based medication error reporting system, and the dataset from 2000 to 2005 was studied.

The investigators found that, after adjusting for clustering by facility, errors from temporary-staff had higher odds of reaching the patients (odds ratio [OR], 1.42; 95 percent confidence interval [CI], 0.97 to 2.09), requiring patient monitoring (OR, 1.91; 95 percent CI, 1.21 to 3.03), causing temporary harm (OR, 3.11; 95 percent CI, 1.13 to 8.59), and being life-threatening (OR, 8.63; 95 percent CI, 1.22 to 61.0), than errors by permanent-staff.

"We found that medication errors associated with temporary staff are more harmful than those associated with permanent staff," the authors write. "We recommend that institutions carefully consider the local risks and benefits of temporary staff use in the emergency department."

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