Medication error reporting: a qualitative study exploring student nurses’ anticipated peer reactions to error reporting

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University of Alabama Libraries

Through a series of vignettes describing a variety of medication error scenarios, the study used descriptive qualitative interviewing to explore junior and senior level student nurses’ beliefs regarding the impact of reporting medication errors on the relationship between the person committing the error and the nurse reporting the error. The study also addressed how, if at all, the student nurses’ beliefs regarding the relational impact would influence their decision to report medication errors, and what other factors influenced their intent to report medication errors. Student nurses were used for this study because the literature suggested pre-licensure socialization into the profession is a strong determinant of positive intent to report errors (Throckmorton & Etchegaray, 2007) and openness to error reporting can be reinforced during the pre-licensure education process (Espin & Meikle, 2014). The theories of Symbolic Interactionism and Ethics of Care were used to discuss the study’s results and the implications for nursing education. Results included a high degree of similarity between student nurses and practicing nurses’ justifications for not reporting medication errors, and a decreased intent to report errors when error-committing nurses demonstrated remorse. Results were varied regarding how interpersonal relationships affected student nurse’s intent to report medication errors, and no difference was found in male versus female nursing students regarding justifications or intent to report medication errors. Implications for nursing education focused on increasing student exposure to medication errors and error reporting.

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