Aug 13, 2015

Examining the Impact of Nursing Structures and Processes on Medication Errors

This research brief determines the relationships among characteristics of the nursing practice environment, nurses’ error interception practices and non-intercepted medication errors in acute care hospitals.

  • Medication errors remain one of the leading threats to patient safety.
  • More than 7,000 inpatients die each year due to medication errors.
  • Medication errors can originate from a variety of providers including physicians during the prescribing stage, pharmacists during the dispensing stage, support staff during the transcription stage, and registered nurses during the administration stage.
  • Research indicates registered nurses (RNs) can serve as a safety net, intercepting medication errors before they reach the patient, regardless of the source or stage of the error.
  • Yet, little is known regarding factors and processes that facilitate this important work of nurses.

Key Findings

  • A supportive nursing practice environment was positively associated with nurses error interception practices.
  • Nurses’ error interception practices were inversely associated with non-intercepted medication errors per 1,000 patient days.


  • Chart 1. Effects of Practice Environment on Nurses’ Error Interception Practices
  • Chart 2. Effects of Practice Environment and Interception Practices on Non-Intercepted Medication Errors.


Charts 1 and 2