• Content Analysis;
  • Iranian Nurses;
  • Medication Error;
  • Perspective


Medical errors are one of the major threats for patient safety in all countries. Medication errors are common medical mistakes that can lead to serious consequences and even death of patients.


The aim of this study was to explore nurses’ perspectives of factors influencing medication errors.


This qualitative study based on content analysis included 20 nurses (n = 20) with at least 2 years of clinical experience working in a large teaching hospital. The nurses were selected using purposeful sampling. The data were collected using semi-structured interviews and analysed using deductive content analysis approach based on Reason's human error model. Rigor of the data was confirmed by external and member check.


Two themes were identified by the participants: (1) the individual approach including personal and psychological characteristics of nurses, patient medical history and physicians’ orders errors; and (2) the cultural and organizational approach including workplace conditions, learning process, risk management strategies, nurses’ pharmacological knowledge, inevitable nursing errors and medication error complications.


Concern about the potential consequences related to reporting of the medication errors was the major limitation of this study. Participants’ concerns were handled by keeping their identity confidential and anonymous.


Results show the importance of planning comprehensive educational programmes and providing constructive feedback in a favourable learning climate.

Implications for nursing and health policy

Findings of this study can be beneficial to managers for nurturing a transparent organizational culture, whereby staff members freely discuss their errors in patient care and seek advice for problem solving.