DOI: 10.1093/ijpp/riad074.060 ISSN: 0961-7671

A cross sectional survey of nurses’ reasons for medication errors at private multispecialty hospitals in Madurai, India

B Senthil Kumar, N Rajapriya
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Health Policy
  • Pharmaceutical Science
  • Pharmacy



Healthcare services should eliminate errors, but any human-involved tasks are prone to error and healthcare is no exception.1 Medication errors are possible in hospitals though they should be eliminated with utmost care. Such medication errors would lead to an increased fatality rate, the emergence of new diseases, increased mediation costs and extended hospital stays.2,3


This cross-sectional study aimed to classify and to identify the reasons for medication error as reported by the nurses and the impact of the collaborative work of Nurses, Pharmacists and Doctors in reducing medication errors and improving patient safety.


An exploratory (cross-sectional) study was conducted to classify and to identify the reasons for medication error among 474 nurses working in private multispecialty hospitals in Madurai between January to May 2023. The data for the study was collected using a questionnaire which included demographic variables and questions on medication errors. The questionnaire was filled through a one-to-one interview method and the data collected were analysed using SPSS 21.0.


The results of analyses done using SPSS revealed that 58.2% of nurses reported having made medication errors and 88.4% of them said they had reported these immediately on the occurrence of such errors to their nursing superintendents. The most common type of medication errors reported were wrong infusion rates and wrong medicines, especially for medicines with similar sounding names (sound-alike drugs). Lack of awareness of the causes of medication errors was found to be the major reason for the occurrence of such errors in hospitals. The analyses showed that there was a significant relationship between age, years of experience and medication errors. One-way ANOVA analysis revealed that the greater the age and experience, the lesser the occurrence of medication errors. However, there was no significant relationship between working shifts and medication errors. The findings also highlighted that the greater the number of patients in the ward, the higher the error in oral administration of drugs. The finding reveals that teamwork between nurses, pharmacists and doctors was reported to help to drastically reduce the number of errors.


Whilst a small-scale study only and reliant on accurate self-reporting, the findings suggest that not all nurses report medication errors, which could result in adverse outcomes for patients. Hence the nursing managers or nursing superintendents should encourage nurses to report medication errors to ensure patient safety. The findings also suggest that collaborative work between nurses, pharmacists, and doctors can reduce medication errors, hence collaborative work and appointing clinical Pharmacists is important to reducing medication errors.


1. Institute of Medicine. To Err is Human: Building a Safer Health System. 1st ed. Washington, DC: National Academy Press; 1999.

2. World Health Organization (2009b) Human Factors in Patient Safety: Review of Topics and Tools. Report for Methods and Measures Working ,Group of WHO Patient Safety. WHO, Geneva.

3. World Health Organization (2009a) Topic 11: Improving medication safety. In WHO Patient Safety. Curriculum Guide for Medical Schools. WHO, Geneva.

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