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Nurses may make more medication errors when they are interrupted.

Today’s Medical News From Newspapers, TV, Radio and the Journals Tuesday April 27, 2010

The Los Angeles Times (4/26, Roan) “Booster Shots” blog reported that “nurses make more medication errors when they are interrupted during the task,” according to a study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine.

Medscape (4/26, Barclay) reported that “in six wards at two major teaching hospitals in Sydney, the investigators directly observed and recorded procedural failures and interruptions while nurses prepared and administered medications.” The “comparison of observational data with patients’ medication charts allowed identification of clinical errors. During 505 hours from September 2006 through March 2008, a volunteer sample of 98 nurses (participation rate, 82%) gave 4,271 medications to 720 adult patients.”

HealthDay (4/26, Pallarito) reported that “interruptions occurred during more than half (53.1 percent) of all administrations, and each interruption was associated with a 12.1 percent increase, on average, in procedural failures and a 12.7 percent increase in clinical errors.” Nearly 80% of the errors “were minor, having little or no impact on patients, according to the study.” But, “115 errors (2.7 percent) were considered major errors, and all of them were clinical errors.”

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