While the general public mostly believes that hospitals are serious about reducing medical errors, there is no consensus on the most serious hospital hazard or on the most appropriate solution to the problem, according to a survey from a major drug distributor.
In the quarterly AmerisourceBergen Index, released Wednesday, 93% of the more than 1,000 respondents say they believe hospitals do place a priority on reducing errors, though only 33% say hospitals consider safety to be a "top priority."
Nearly a quarter of all respondents--23%--report that a close relative has received the wrong medication from a healthcare professional at some point.
About a third of those interviewed call the nursing shortage the most serious safety hazard in hospitals today, and 27% are most concerned about the long hours residents and interns work without sleep. Only 15% are most fearful of a medical error, less than the 22% who call risk of infection the top inpatient hazard.
Opinion Research Corp. surveyed 1,033 adults in late January on behalf of pharmaceutical distributor AmerisourceBergen, Valley Forge, Pa.
AmerisourceBergen recently purchased Bridge Medical, a medication barcoding technology firm, and barcoding is a prominent subject in the quarterly index.
According to the study, 75% of U.S. adults are in favor of barcoding technology to reduce errors in medication administration. Among those 18 to 34 years old, 82% say the government should require drug companies to put barcodes on all prescription medications.
A solid majority of 80% favors uniform safety protocols for medical procedures or medication administration, according to the survey, but respondents disagree on the means to reach that end.
The survey asks respondents to choose from a list of five methods of increasing safety in drug dispensing. A plurality of 32% prefer that physicians write prescriptions electronically, while 24% say barcode scanning is the best option.
Just 17% call for automated methods of counting pills and checking prescriptions as they are dispensed, while 11% want more pharmacists and 8% more pharmacy technicians.
And although the hiring of pharmacists appears to be a low priority among the public, 83% of those surveyed say yes when asked if taxpayers should fund low-interest loans for pharmacy students.