Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Nurse likelihood to report a pediatric medication error: Examination of the “pre-reporting” period
by Kingston, Francine, Dr.P.H., The University of Texas School of Public Health, 2011, 126; 3464803
Abstract (Summary)

Each year, hospitalized patients experience 1.5 million preventable injuries from medication errors and hospitals incur an additional $3.5 billion in cost (Aspden, Wolcott, Bootman, & Cronenwatt; (2007). It is believed that error reporting is one way to learn about factors contributing to medication errors. And yet, an estimated 50% of medication errors go unreported. This period of medication error pre-reporting, with few exceptions, is underexplored. The literature focuses on error prevention and management, but lacks a description of the period of introspection and inner struggle over whether to report an error and resulting likelihood to report. Reporting makes a nurse vulnerable to reprimand, legal liability, and even threat to licensure. For some nurses this state may invoke a disparity between a person‘s belief about him or herself as a healer and the undeniable fact of the error.

This study explored the medication error reporting experience. Its purpose was to inform nurses, educators, organizational leaders, and policy-makers about the medication error pre-reporting period, and to contribute to a framework for further investigation. From a better understanding of factors that contribute to or detract from the likelihood of an individual to report an error, interventions can be identified to help the nurse come to a psychologically healthy resolution and help increase reporting of error in order to learn from error and reduce the possibility of future similar error.

The research question was: "What factors contribute to a nurse's likelihood to report an error?" The specific aims of the study were to: (1) describe participant nurses' perceptions of medication error reporting; (2) describe participant explanations of the emotional, cognitive, and physical reactions to making a medication error; (3) identify pre-reporting conditions that make it less likely for a nurse to report a medication error; and (4) identify pre-reporting conditions that make it more likely for a nurse to report a medication error.

A qualitative research study was conducted to explore the medication error experience and in particular the pre-reporting period from the perspective of the nurse. A total of 54 registered nurses from a large private free-standing not-for-profit children's hospital in the southwestern United States participated in group interviews. The results describe the experience of the nurse as well as the physical, emotional, and cognitive responses to the realization of the commission of a medication error. The results also reveal factors that make it more and less likely to report a medication error.

It is clear from this study that upon realization that he or she has made a medication error, a nurse's foremost concern is for the safety of the patient. Fear was also described by each group of nurses. The nurses described a fear of several things including physician reaction, manager reaction, peer reaction, as well as family reaction and possible lack of trust as a result. Another universal response was the description of a struggle with guilt, shame, imperfection, blaming oneself, and questioning one's competence.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: McCurdy, Sheryl
Commitee: Felknnor, Sarah, Quill, Beth
School: The University of Texas School of Public Health
Department: Policy & Community Health
School Location: United States -- Texas
Source: DAI-B 72/11, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Nursing
Keywords: Errors, Medication, Nurses, Pediatric medication errors
Publication Number: 3464803
ISBN: 978-1-124-81513-8
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