Preventing Medical Errors in Healthcare Settings


A medical error is the failure to accomplish an intended action as anticipated, thus resulting in an adverse event. An adverse event is an injury that results from medication/medical management rather than by the disease the patient is suffering from (Tybinski et. al., 2012).

Review Topic

The topic under review is preventing medical errors (Tybinski et. al., 2012; Feijter et. al., 2012); & Greiver et. al., 2011).

Importance of reviewing the topic

Studying this topic is important because healthcare systems experience incidences of medical errors that jeopardize the patients’ safety or result in the death of patients (Feijter et. al., 2012).

  1. 98,000 people die annually in the United States due to medical errors (Al-Assaf et. al., 2003).
  2. Medical errors cause more deaths than motorcycle accidents, breast cancer, or HIV/AIDS in the US (Greiver et. al., 2011).

What the literature review will address (Objectives)

This literature review will address

  1. Types of medical errors and measures to prevent them.
  2. Safe practices that reduce medical errors.

Body of Literature Review

Types of medical errors and measures to prevent them

Medical errors happen in healthcare settings such as doctors’ offices, nursing homes, pharmacies, urgent care centers, and at homes and hospitals (Tybinski et. al., 2012). Research conducted on medical records from hospitals showed that 1012 incidences of medical errors occurred in 1282 classified hospitals in the USA (Feijter et. al., 2012).

Recent investigations of pharmacists provide that about 2.4 million prescriptions are filled wrongly every year in the USA. A study released in 2011 that reviewed 15,000 medical records in Colorado revealed that 54% of surgical errors were preventable. Research that reviewed 1,133 medical records found that 70% of adverse events on adverse events were preventable, 6% potentially preventable and 24% not preventable. Medical errors include the following:

  1. Diagnostic Error
    They include misdiagnosis, use of wrong diagnostic tests, and wrong prescription or dosage (Feijter et. al. (2012). The use of electronic medical records (EMRs) is a better measure of preventing them (Greiver et. al., 2011).
  2. Equipment Failure Errors
    They include failure of defibrillator equipment or dislodging of the intravenous pump valves that may result in increased medication doses in a short time (Feijter et. al. (2012). Proper equipment use and maintenance can help prevent the occurrence of such errors.
  3. Surgical Errors
    They include wrong surgical procedure, wrong-person surgery, and wrong-site surgery. They can be prevented by the use of a universal protocol that includes three measures professionals must undertake before conducting a surgery. They include pre-procedure verification, marking the correct surgical site, and time-out for the operating staff just before the surgery (Tybinski et. al., 2012).
  4. Medication Errors and Adverse Drug Events
    They include wrong prescription, wrong drug administration, and wrong care for medicated patients. Measures to prevent medical errors include the use of computerized systems and correct drug labeling (Greiver et. al., 2011).

Safe practices that reduce medical errors

  1. Use of computerized physician order entry (CPOE) and clinical support systems (CDSS). This is because CPOE accepts only standardized orders. Modern CPOE systems are interfaced with CDSSs to improve efficiency and minimize errors (Tybinski et. al., 2012).
  2. The use of Computerized ADE Monitoring is an effective means of preventing drug errors since it provides a more accurate means of tracking adverse drug events (Greiver et. al., 2011).
  3. Use of standardized protocols e.g. using standard abbreviations and dose designations (Feijter et. al., 2012).
  4. Use of computer-generated reminders for follow-up testing (Al-Assaf et. al., 2003).

How the Studies I Chose Support my Research Topic

Those research study sources contain valuable information on medical errors and data on the number of people who die annually in the United States due to medical errors. Moreover, they highlight possible ways of preventing and reducing medical errors.


Medical errors occur in healthcare, and they cause greater harm and suffering to patients. The majority of the errors are preventable while a few are not preventable ( Al-Assaf et. al., 2012) gaps identified in this research include

  1. Medical errors that occur outside hospital set-ups are rarely noted. Therefore they go unnoticed and undocumented.
  2. The use of information technology/ICT in minimizing or preventing medical errors is not yet established ( Al-Assaf et. al., 2012)

I will intend to focus on medical errors that occur outside of hospitals and how they should be tracked, documented, and prevented.

  1. The area of focus is tracking medical errors that occur outside hospitals. This will help healthcare planners to know the number of efforts required to eliminate medical errors.


Al-Assaf, A. F., Bumpus, L. J., Carter, D., & Dixon, S. B. (2003). Preventing Errors in Healthcare: A Call for Action. Hospital Topics, 81(3), 5-12.

Feijter, J., Grave, W., Muijtjens, A. M., Scherpbier, A. A., & Koopmans, R. P. (2012). A comprehensive Overview of Medical Error in Hospitals. Web.

Greiver, M., Barnsley, J., Aliarzadeh, B., Krueger, P., Moineddin, R., Butt, D. A., & Kaplan, D. (2011). Using a Data Entry Clerk to Improve Data Quality in Primary Care Electronic Medical Records: A Pilot Study, Informatics in Primary Care, 19(4), 241-250.

Tybinski, M., Lyovkin, P., Sniegirova, V., & Kopec, D. (2012). Medical errors and their prevention. Health (1949-4998), 4(4), 165-172. Web.