Use of New Web-Based Error Reporting System Feasible

Activity raises awareness of medication errors and adverse drug events; time pressure is main barrier

THURSDAY, Nov. 11 (HealthDay News) -- It may be feasible for physicians and office staff to anonymously report adverse drug events and medication errors, which raises their awareness of the types of medication errors that can occur, but time pressures and a fear of repercussion are still issues, according to research published in the November/December issue of the Annals of Family Medicine.

John Hickner, M.D., of the Cleveland Clinic, and colleagues developed the Medication Error and Adverse Drug Event Reporting System (MEADERS) and put it to a 10-week field test to determine physician and office staff use and acceptance of the system as well as the distribution of characteristics of medication event reports. Participants were 220 physicians and office staff from 24 practices.

The researchers found that, over the testing period, 507 anonymous reports were submitted, 357 (70 percent) of which included medication errors only, 138 (27 percent) of which involved adverse drug events only, and 12 (2.4 percent) of which involved both. Communication problems were cited as the most frequent contributors to errors (41 percent); knowledge deficits made up more than one-fifth (22 percent). Staff and physician awareness of office medication management errors was raised by the reporting, but 36 percent indicated that event reporting had raised fears of repercussion in the practice. The biggest barrier to reporting was time pressure.

"It is feasible for primary care clinicians and office staff to report medication errors and adverse drug events to a Web-based reporting system. Time pressures and a punitive culture are barriers to event reporting that must be overcome. Further testing of MEADERS as a quality improvement tool is warranted," the authors write.

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