Assessment of medication errors at the in-patient wards of Arua Regional Referral Hospital, Arua District, Uganda
Background: A medication error is interpreted as an avoidable circumstance which may affect the drug end user while the medication is in his/her custody or even in the care of the healthcare professional. Medication error occurrences have been explored and documented in some parts of Uganda but not in ARRH. And since these errors pose a serious challenge to the health care system, it was worth assessing their occurrence in ARRH. Objectives: To establish the prevalence of different types of medication errors, drivers of medication errors and hindrances to medication error reporting at the in-patient wards of ARRH. Methods: It was a descriptive cross-sectional study employing mixed methods. The study was conducted at the in-patient department of ARRH amongst 309 patients and 59 HWs. Data was collected using a semi- structured questionnaire and key informant interview guides. Data was analyzed using the SPSS version 19.0 computer package. Data collected were presented in form of pie charts, frequency tables and bar graphs and summarized into percentages. Qualitative data was presented in form of detailed descriptions. Findings: Administration errors accounted for majority (57.2%) of the medication errors, followed by dispensing errors (53.1%) and lastly prescription errors (36%).The study results indicated that antibiotics were the category of medicines more prone to incorrect time of drug administration (76.4%) and incorrect frequency of drug administration (93.8%) with a statistical significance of p=0.00 in all scenarios. None of the 309 patient files completely had no medication errors. Drivers to medication errors reported were personal negligence, attitude of health workers, lack of enough reliable knowledge and desire to avoid mistrust significantly hindered medication error reporting with 43 HWs agreeing. Conclusion: Medication errors are common in ARRH and are most prevalent during drug administration. Negligence is the key factor implicated in medication error occurrence. Desire to avoid mistrust and fear of being rated incompetent amongst HWs has significantly hindered error reporting.