Background: Registered nurses have a vital role in discovering and correcting medical error.
Objective: To describe the type and frequency of errors detected by American critical care nurses, and to ascertain who made the errors discovered by study participants.
Methods: Daily logbooks were used to collect information about errors discovered by a random sample of 502 critical care nurses during a 28-day period.
Results: Although the majority of errors discovered and corrected by critical care nurses involved medications (163/367), procedural errors were common (n = 115). Charting and transcription errors were less frequently discovered. The errors discovered by participants were attributed to a wide variety of staff members including nurses, doctors, pharmacists, technicians and unit secretaries.
Conclusions: Given the importance of nurses in maintaining patient safety, future studies should identify factors that enhance their effectiveness to prevent, intercept and correct healthcare errors.
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Funding: This study was supported by grants from the Agency for Health Care Research and Quality (R01 HS11963-01), the American Nurses Foundation, and the American Association of Critical Care Nurses.
Competing interests: None.