Medication Errors and Healthcare Uncertainty: Implications for Pharmaceutical Care in Two Tertiary Hospitals




Medication errors and uncertainty are of great concern to health professionals due to their prevalence and impact on therapeutic outcomes. The objectives of the study are to explore pharmacists’ perspectives of the relationships between medication errors and healthcare uncertainty; and their effects on pharmaceutical care and therapeutic outcomes in two tertiary hospitals in Lagos, Nigeria.

A 17-item inventory was administered to pharmacists to elicit their perspectives of prescribing, dispensing, and medication administrative errors in the respective professional groups in the two hospitals. The context of ‘uncertainty’ was given to participants to avoid ambiguity of response. Section A was on demographics, Section B comprises three questions each, on prescribing, dispensing and administration errors respectively; section C is on pharmacists’ interventions, patient safety and outcomes. The instrument was validated. Descriptive statistics, correlation and regression analyses, as well as path analyses were used to analyze the results.

A total of 56 pharmacists comprising 20 (36%) and 36 (64%) from hospitals A and B respectively completed the questionnaires. Mean response ratings of variables on medication errors and pharmaceutical care under uncertainty are high ( ≥ 3/5 points). Pearson correlations are significantly positive for the three aspects of medication errors and uncertainty. Multiple regression analyses reveal prescribing and administration errors having more direct effect on healthcare uncertainty (p<0.05); and both types of errors have more direct effect on pharmaceutical care. Standardized coefficient reveals that of all the medication errors, administration errors have the greatest direct effect on pharmaceutical care. Path analysis indicates that total effect of pharmaceutical care on uncertainty is greater than their direct effect.                   

The impact of medication errors and uncertainty on pharmaceutical care and patient outcomes are significant. These relationships should be closely monitored through interprofessional co-operation aimed at achieving optimal care and errors minimization in the presence of uncertainty


Medication errors, health uncertainty, pharmaceutical care, patient safety, hospitals

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