Distractions, increased workload and other staffing-related issues, including inexperienced or temporary staff, were the most frequent factors contributing to medication errors in 2001, according to U.S. Pharmacopeia, Rockville, Md. Staffing issues were cited in 36% of medication-error reports in 2001, having steadily increased from 27% in 1999, the first year U.S. Pharmacopeia conducted its annual analysis. Distractions contributed to 47% of the 105,000 medication errors reported by 368 hospitals nationwide in 2001. Staff workload was cited in 24% of the reported errors. Some 61% of errors reached patients, an improvement from 69% in 2000. Of those, 2.4% were harmful or fatal. Fourteen deaths were reported, compared with three in 2000. More information on the report is available at U.S. Pharmacopeia's Web site, www.usp.org. -- John Morrissey
Staffing issues biggest factor in drug errors: study
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