National and local medication error reporting systems – A survey of practices in 16 countries

Anna-Riia Holmström, Marja Airaksinen, Marjorie Weiss, Tana Wuliji, Xuan Hao Chan, Raisa Laaksonen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review


OBJECTIVES: To explore the existence and characteristics of national and local medication error reporting (MER) systems, and to describe national medication safety experts’ perceptions of a good and effective MER system and barriers to reporting.
METHODS: In a descriptive cross-sectional study, 32 medication safety experts were identified through member organizations of the International Pharmaceutical Federation in 88 countries and other professional organizations in 3 additional countries. These experts were invited to participate in an on-line survey.
RESULTS: 16 national medication safety experts from different countries participated in the study (response rate 50%). A national (n=5) or local (n=6) MER system existed in 11 of these countries. In 5 countries no MER system existed. The most common feature of the MER systems was confidentiality of the reported information. Most experts perceived that a good and effective MER system was characterized by the opportunity to learn from errors by those involved in reporting, having a non-punitive approach to reporting, and ease of use. They also perceived that a blame culture, lack of time, training and coordination of reporting were the main barriers to reporting.
CONCLUSIONS: Blame culture, a lack of time, training and coordination of reporting continue to be the major barriers to reporting. Learning from errors and having a non-punitive approach to reporting were thought to be the most critical features of a MER system. Difficulties in identifying national medication safety experts indicates a need for promoting international networking of medication safety experts and bodies for sharing information and learning from others.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Patient Safety
Issue number4
Pages (from-to)165-176
Number of pages12
Publication statusPublished - 2012
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

Fields of Science

  • 317 Pharmacy
  • medication error
  • medication safety
  • medication error reporting
  • medication error reporting systems

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