Medication Errors in United States Hospitals

C. A. Bond, PharmD, FASHP, FCCP, Cynthia L. Raehl, PharmD, FASHP, FCCP, and Todd Franke, PhD


Pharmacotherapy. 2001;21(9) 

In This Article


Data from this study are from 1992 and may not be representative of health care in 2001. It is possible that the information provided to us was inaccurate. We did not attempt to verify information by phone contact or through hospital visitation. Since this is the first large-scale study of factors associated with medication errors in hospitals, these findings will need to be replicated in future studies. This study design allowed us to determine association and direct relationships between variables, but it did not allow us to determine causality. Therefore, these findings should not be construed as cause and effect. It is possible that the hospitals in our study population were not representative of all U.S. hospitals. However, this is doubtful, since the study population represented 32% of all U.S. hospitals.[35,36] Given that this was a population-based survey study, we could not determine the specific types of medication errors. Nor could we gather specific information about each medication error and the types of harm experienced by patients. Unfortunately, there is no national standard that hospitals use to categorize medication errors. Since medication errors were likely underreported, actual error rates were likely higher than reported. Caution should be employed in applying these findings to individual pharmacies or hospitals.


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