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Nurses’ experience of medication errors in residential aged care facilities: An exploratory descriptive study

      ABSTRACT

      Background

      The incidence of medication errors is of great concern in residential aged care facilities. However, registered nurses’ perceptions on medication errors and the strategies to reduce medication errors have not been previously explored.

      Aim

      The aim of this study was to explore nurses’ experiences of medication errors and their suggestions to reduce these in residential aged care facilities.

      Methods

      An exploratory descriptive design was employed; 12 registered nurses working in residential aged care facilities across Victoria participated in the study. Semi-structured interviews were used for data collection, and the data were thematically analysed.

      Findings

      Four themes emerged from the interviews: (i) work environment, with sub themes of inadequate staffing and unmanageable workload; (ii) external constraints, with sub themes of involvement of a multi-disciplinary team and work interruptions; (iii) psychological impact; and (iv) medication error prevention strategies.

      Discussion

      This study identified that medication errors occur because of inadequate staffing, work interruptions, and varying factors of multi-disciplinary team involvement. Medication errors negatively impact staff, residents, and family members causing additional stress and frustration surrounding follow-up and management. However, practical suggestions provided by registered nurses could be implemented in future to reduce the occurrence of such medication errors.

      Conclusion

      This study described the contributing factors to medication errors; their impact on the staff, residents, and family members; and practical strategies to reduce medication errors, based on the experience of registered nurses in residential aged care facilities. This study makes a novel contribution to knowledge and practice in medication management process in RACF.

      Keywords

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