Table 2

Summary of variations associated with medication administration error (MAE) inclusion/exclusion criteria in 16 UK observational studies and their effect on the reported MAE rate

Type of variation in MAE inclusion/exclusion criteriaNumber of studies in which included as an MAENumber of studies in which excluded as an MAENumber of studies in which not reportedEffect of variation on reported MAE rate
Wrong time621 23 24 27 32 35510 11 20 22 30525 26 28 29 31Including wrong time errors of over 30 min from the time for which the dose was due increased the reported MAE rate from 27 to 69% of 320 intravenous doses.24 Other studies did not report these data separately
Omission due to patient not on ward321 23 241351210 11 20 22 25–32Unknown, as studies did not report these data separately
Doses left at the patient's bedside without nurse witnessing consumption132410 23 30 35*1111 20–22 24–29 31These accounted for 2.8% of 1554 paediatric doses in one multi-centre study.32 If the frequency of doses left at the bedside are similar in adult hospital settings, then inclusion of these as MAEs would potentially increase the MAE rate by up to 2.8% of doses observed
Omission for clinical reasons121622 23 28 29 32 35910 11 20 24–27 30 31These occurred in 0.2% of 2000 non-intravenous doses in one study21 and thus their exclusion in other MAE studies is unlikely to have a significant impact on the reported MAE rate
  • *One study excluded leaving a dose at the bedside as a MAE initially but included these as MAEs if the dose was still at the bedside by the time the researcher leaves the ward.35