Complex automated medication systems reduce medication administration errors in a Danish acute medical unit

Bettina Wulff Risør*, Marianne Lisby, Jan Sørensen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

21 Citations (Scopus)


Objective: The objective of this study was to evaluate the effectiveness of two automated medication systems in reducing medication administration errors. Design: The study was a controlled before-and-after study and included three observation periods with collection of data during a 3-week period as initial baseline and two subsequent follow-up periods at 10 and 20 months. Setting: The study was conducted in two Danish acute medical units. Interventions: Two automated medication systems were implemented: (i) a complex automated medication system (cAMS) consisting of an automated dispensing cabinet, automated unit-dose dispensing and barcode medication administration (BCMA) and (ii) a non-patient-specific automated medication system (npsAMS) consisting of automated unit-dose dispensing and BCMA. Main outcome measure: The occurrence of administration errors and sub-types; procedural and clinical errors were observed. The proportion of errors was calculated by dividing the number of doses with one or more errors with the number of opportunities for errors. Difference-in-difference analysis using logistic regression was used to assess changes in proportion of errors. Results: Compared with control, the cAMS reduced the overall risk of administration errors in the intervention unit, (odds ratio (OR) 0.53; 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.27-0.90) and procedural errors were significantly reduced as well (OR 0.44; 95% CI 0.126-0.94). The npsAMS effectively reduced the clinical errors in the intervention ward (OR 0.38; 95% CI 0.15-0.96). Conclusions: In line with previous research, this study found that technological interventions in the medication administration process could reduce the occurrence of medication errors.

Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Journal for Quality in Health Care
Issue number6
Pages (from-to)457-465
Number of pages9
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2018
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2018.


  • Automated dispensing
  • Automated dispensing cabinet
  • Automated medication system
  • Barcode assisted medication administration
  • Medication administration
  • Medication errors
  • Patient safety


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