The study of errors, expectations and skills for medication delivery systems improvement

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Date

2008

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Montana State University - Bozeman, College of Engineering

Abstract

Medication errors occurring in hospitals are a growing national concern. The enormous gaps in knowledge related to medication errors are often seen as major reasons for increased patient safety risks and increased waste in the hospital setting. However, little research effort in industrial and management engineering has been devoted specifically to medication delivery systems to improve or optimize their operations in terms of patient safety and systems efficiency and productivity. As a result, the current literature does not offer integrated solutions to overcome the workflow and management difficulties with medication delivery. Therefore, a better understanding of workflow and management sources of medication errors is needed to help support decisions about investing in strategies to reduce medication errors. Using qualitative and quantitative research methods the work reported in this dissertation makes several contributions to the existing body of knowledge. First, using healthcare professionals' perceptions of medication delivery system, a set of simple and logical workflow design rules are proposed. If properly implemented, the proposed rules are capable of eliminating the unnecessary variations in the process of medication delivery which cause medication errors and waste. Second, a theoretical model of 'expectations' for effective management of medication error reporting, analysis and improvement is provided. The practical implication of this theoretical model extends to effective management strategies that can increase feelings of competence and help create a culture that values improvement efforts. Third, eight propositions for effective use of a systems engineering method (in this research the "Map-to-Improve" (M2I) method) for medication delivery improvement are offered. Finally, a set of skills needed for future healthcare professionals to effectively use systems engineering methods is provided. The proposed insights into these areas can result in improved pedagogy for professional development of healthcare professionals. The practical implication extends to the development of better methods for healthcare systems analysis. In summary, the author of this research work hopes that the findings and discussions will help healthcare organizations to achieve satisfactory improvement in medication delivery.

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