• empirical research report;
  • focus groups;
  • medication administration;
  • narrative;
  • nursing;
  • patient safety;
  • quality improvement;
  • secondary care


Title. A secondary care nursing perspective on medication administration safety

Aim.  This paper is a report of a study to explore how nurses in a secondary care environment understand medication administration safety and the factors that contribute to, or undermine, safe practice during this process.

Background.  Medication safety is an important issue in which acute care nurses are actively involved on a daily basis. International research highlights that, despite attempts to maintain patient safety during this process, many errors are made.

Method.  Data were collected in 2005 using three focus groups of nurses that formed part of a larger study examining organizational safety and medication administration from a nursing perspective. A narrative approach was employed to analyse the transcripts.

Findings.  Participants had good understandings of organizational culture in relation to medication safety and recognized the importance of effective multi-disciplinary teams in maintaining a safe environment for patients. Despite this, they acknowledged that not all systems work well, and offered a variety of ways to improve current medication practices.

Conclusion.  These findings highlight the meaningful contribution nurses can make to patient safety and emphasize the importance of including the nursing voice in any quality improvement initiatives. Researchers must seek nurses’ opinions on safe medication practice in order that medication safety can be improved. Local contexts may influence medication safety in ways that only nurses can identify. When addressing the issue of medication safety, it is important to focus nursing research on both the macro and the micro contexts.