Medication errors that harm patients are seven times more frequent in
the course of radiological services than in other hospital settings,
according to the analysis by the United States Pharmacopeia. (Press release)

From
2000 to 2004, 12 percent of the 2,032 medication errors reported in
radiological services resulted in patient harm. This is more than seven
times the percentage of harmful errors reported in the 2000–2004
general MEDMARX data set. Radiological services were also more likely
to result in the need for additional care and consumption of resources.
Inpatient and
outpatient radiological services include the radiology department,
cardiac catheterization laboratory, and nuclear medicine. These
services involve an increasing number of procedures and tests each
year, despite the common misperception that radiology is limited to
x-rays. In addition to diagnostic exams, radiological services include
procedures such as draining abscesses, inserting gastric feeding tubes,
inserting arterial stents, and performing angioplasties.

Patients in radiology may face higher risks because of the potentially dangerous drugs used in diagnostic tests and as a consequence of patients being transferred, with care being handed off from one department to another. The study was compiled from a review of 823,268 medication errors that were voluntarily reported by 315 hospitals between 2000 and 2004. Researchers found 2,032 errors that occurred in radiology
departments. Of those, 12 percent resulted in some kind of harm to
patients, which is seven times higher than the percentage of hospital
medication errors that caused harm overall.

It is interesting to note that patient transfers between nursing units also impacts patient safety, for the many of the same reasons: communications and familiarity with the patient.

[Hat tip: FierceHealthcare]