The aim of this overview was to examine the effectiveness of interventions designed to improve patient safety by reducing medication administration errors using data from systematic reviews.
Medication administration errors remain unacceptably high despite the introduction of a range of interventions aimed at enhancing patient safety. Systematic reviews of strategies designed to improve medication safety report contradictory findings. A critical appraisal and synthesis of these findings are, therefore, warranted.
A comprehensive three‐step search strategy was employed to search across 10 electronic databases. Two reviewers independently examined the methodological rigour and scientific quality of included systematic reviews using the Assessment of Multiple Systematic Reviews protocol.
Sixteen systematic reviews were eligible for inclusion. Evidence suggest that multifaceted approaches involving a combination education and risk management strategies and the use of bar code technology are effective in reducing medication errors.
More research is needed to determine the benefits of routine double‐checking of medications during administration by nurses, outcomes of self‐administration of medications by capable patients, and associations between interruptions and medications errors.
Implications for nursing management
Medication‐related incidents must be captured in a way that facilitates meaningful categorisation including contributing factors, potential and actual/risk of harm and contextual information on the incident.