Opinions of Maltese doctors and pharmacists on medication errors

Amy Tanti, Miriam Camilleri, Andrew A Borg, Benjamin Micallef, Gavril Flores, Anthony Serracino-Inglott, John Joseph Borg
International Journal of Risk & Safety in Medicine 2017, 29 (1-2): 81-99

BACKGROUND: Pharmacovigilance directive 2010/84/EU focused attention on medication errors and encouraged regulators to identify causing and contributing factors.

OBJECTIVES: (1) To study opinions of doctors/pharmacists on factors bearing a causal link to MEs as well as ways to minimise MEs (2) to test whether differences in opinion exist between subgroups of doctors and pharmacists working in community, hospital or office settings.

METHODS: Different questionnaires were circulated to doctors and pharmacists. Respondents were subdivided according to their primary practice.

RESULTS: 320 responses were received (204 doctors/116 pharmacists). Differences in opinion reaching statistical significance were observed on distractions from staff, overwork and fatigue, availability of technical resources and having more than 1 doctor on duty. For pharmacists', differences on issues of generic medicine availability and interruptions were found.

CONCLUSION: Distractions and interruptions while executing tasks was flagged as an area requiring attention. Issues of overwork and fatigue affect especially doctors in hospital the majority of which are of the opinion that regulatory control on patient numbers could minimize errors. Increasing technical resources and keeping knowledge up-to-date, addressing overwork and high patient workloads have been identified as important areas when looking to reduce MEs.

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