Quality Indicators for Safe Medication Preparation and Administration: A Systematic Review

Marian Smeulers, Lotte Verweij, Jolanda M. Maaskant, Monica de Boer, C. T. Paul Krediet, Els J. M. Nieveen van Dijkum, Hester Vermeulen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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BACKGROUND: One-third of all medication errors causing harm to hospitalized patients occur in the medication preparation and administration phase, which is predominantly a nursing activity. To monitor, evaluate and improve the quality and safety of this process, evidence-based quality indicators can be used.

OBJECTIVES: The aim of study was to identify evidence-based quality indicators (structure, process and outcome) for safe in-hospital medication preparation and administration.

METHODS: MEDLINE, EMBASE and CINAHL were searched for relevant studies published up to January 2015. Additionally, nine databases were searched to identify relevant grey literature. Two reviewers independently selected studies if (1) the method for quality indicator development combined a literature search with expert panel opinion, (2) the study contained quality indicators on medication safety, and (3) any of the quality indicators were applicable to hospital medication preparation and administration. A multidisciplinary team appraised the studies independently using the AIRE instrument, which contains four domains and 20 items. Quality indicators applicable to in-hospital medication preparation and administration were extracted using a structured form.

RESULTS: The search identified 1683 studies, of which 64 were reviewed in detail and five met the inclusion criteria. Overall, according to the AIRE domains, all studies were clear on purpose; most of them applied stakeholder involvement and used evidence reasonably; usage of the indicator in practice was scarcely described. A total of 21 quality indicators were identified: 5 structure indicators (e.g. safety management and high alert medication), 11 process indicators (e.g. verification and protocols) and 5 outcome indicators (e.g. harm and death). These quality indicators partially cover the 7 rights.

CONCLUSION: Despite the relatively small number of included studies, the identified quality indicators can serve as an excellent starting point for further development of nursing specific quality indicators for medication safety. Especially on the right patient, right route, right time and right documentation there is room future development of quality indicators.

Original languageEnglish
Article number0122695
Number of pages14
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2015


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