Interruptions increase risk of medication error

Nurses who are interrupted during medication administration are more likely to make an error.

Key findings from a study in the Archives of Internal Medicine include:

  • Each interruption during medication administration increases the risk of a nurse making a procedural or clinical error by 12%
  • More than half of all drug administrations included interruptions and one-quarter of all drug administrations had at least one clinical error
  • There was an increase in error when there was an increase in interruptions

The authors note that not all interruptions result in error.

(Sources: Archives of Internal Medicine,, April 26, 2010;
Advisory Board Daily Briefing,, April 28, 2010)