Study: Less Than 2.5% of Medication Errors Are Reported to Patients

Patients are rarely informed when medication errors are made in hospitals, according to a study in Critical Care Medicine.

Researchers studied hospital intensive care unit and non-ICU medication errors reported from 1995 to 2005 to the MEDMARX system — an anonymous, self-reported, confidential online medication error reporting program.

Overall, 537 hospitals reported 839,553 medication errors, of which 6.6 percent occurred in the ICU; 3.7 percent of these errors were considered harmful. Of the 93.4 percent errors that were not in the ICU, 1.9 percent were harmful. Furthermore, ICU errors were more likely to be associated with any harm, permanent harm, harm requiring life-sustaining intervention or death compared with non-ICU harm.

By the time of reporting, only 1.5 percent of ICU errors and 2.1 percent of non-ICU errors were reported to patients and their caregivers.

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