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Every Error a Treasure: Improving Medication Use with a Nonpunitive Reporting System

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Background: The fear of reprisal, combined with the additional time required for reporting, are significant disincentives to reporting of medical events. Such considerations provided an incentive for the Upstate Medical University Hospital (Syracuse, New York) to develop monitoring systems to decrease the potential for drug harm.

Implementing a Nonpunitive Reporting System: Previously, a convenient, point-based score card system for punishment and remediation led to underreporting and hindered the identification of safety improvement opportunities in medication use processes. Nursing buy-in was accomplished through careful initial negotiations that emphasized that patients were best served by learning from errors in the medication use process. The revised medication event reporting policy, as established in October 2000 for all staff, severed the link between reporting errors and performance evaluations.

Results: Data collected 18 months before the policy change was compared with data collected after the policy change was enacted in October 2000. The number of reports received each month increased from an average of 19 to 102 (p < .001).

Discussion: Substantive quality improvements in medication have been achieved by using a systematic approach to the analysis of the markedly increased number of reported medication events following the introduction of a nonpunitive reporting system.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: July 1, 2007

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  • Published monthly, The Joint Commission Journal on Quality and Patient Safety is a peer-reviewed publication dedicated to providing health professionals with the information they need to promote the quality and safety of health care. The Joint Commission Journal on Quality and Patient Safety invites original manuscripts on the development, adaptation, and/or implementation of innovative thinking, strategies, and practices in improving quality and safety in health care. Case studies, program or project reports, reports of new methodologies or new applications of methodologies, research studies on the effectiveness of improvement interventions, and commentaries on issues and practices are all considered.

    Also known as Joint Commission Journal on Quality Improvement and Joint Commission Journal on Quality and Safety
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