Comparison of medication safety systems in critical access hospitals: Combined analysis of two studies

Gary L. Cochran, Ryan S. Barrett, Susan D. Horn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Purpose. The role of pharmacist transcription, onsite pharmacist dispensing, use of automated dispensing cabinets (ADCs), nurse-nurse double checks, or barcode-assisted medication administration (BCMA) in reducing medication error rates in critical access hospitals (CAHs) was evaluated. Methods. Investigators used the practice-based evidence methodology to identify predictors of medication errors in 12 Nebraska CAHs. Detailed information about each medication administered was recorded through direct observation. Errors were identified by comparing the observed medication administered with the physician's order. Chi-square analysis and Fisher's exact test were used to measure differences between groups of medication-dispensing procedures. Results. Nurses observed 6497 medications being administered to 1374 patients. The overall error rate was 1.2%. The transcription error rates for orders transcribed by an onsite pharmacist were slightly lower than for orders transcribed by a telepharmacy service (0.10% and 0.33%, respectively). Fewer dispensing errors occurred when medications were dispensed by an onsite pharmacist versus any other method of medication acquisition (0.10% versus 0.44%, p = 0.0085). The rates of dispensing errors for medications that were retrieved from a single-cell ADC (0.19%), a multicell ADC (0.45%), or a drug closet or general supply (0.77%) did not differ significantly. BCMA was associated with a higher proportion of dispensing and administration errors intercepted before reaching the patient (66.7%) compared with either manual double checks (10%) or no BCMA or double check (30.4%) of the medication before administration (p = 0.0167). Conclusion. Onsite pharmacist dispensing and BCMA were associated with fewer medication errors and are important components of a medication safety strategy in CAHs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1167-1173
Number of pages7
JournalAmerican Journal of Health-System Pharmacy
Issue number15
StatePublished - Aug 1 2016

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology
  • Health Policy


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