This Harris survey provides a good overview of progress made in meds admin and technology adoption;  there are no bombshells or epiphanies. Meds safety progress is charted with 72 percent of frontline registered nurses surveyed believing that medication safety has improved in their hospital over the last five years. Eighty percent of those nurses identified technology as a major contributor to that improvement -- no doubt reassuring to technology vendor McKesson, the survey's sponsor.

The study found that less than half of nurses surveyed (43 percent) use online documentation tools at a nursing station. Only 32 percent of respondents surveyed use these tools at the point of care. While automated medication cabinets are by far the most commonly used technology (cited by 70 percent of respondents), bar-code medication administration tools are used by only 23 percent of nurses polled. Scanning bar codes on patient wristbands enables nurses to check for the “five rights” of medication safety – right patient, right drug, right dose, right time and right route – before administering medications to patients.

Besides technology, an environment that supports the examination of errors (69 percent) is a reason cited for improvements in medication safety by respondents who feel medication safety is better in their own hospital. Other reasons given include better communications between nurses and pharmacists (57 percent), and better communications between nurses and doctors (49 percent).

The study also reinforced that patient transfers (53 percent) and shift changes (52 percent) were also identified as times when these respondents were most concerned that errors may occur.

2005 McKesson Survey of Frontline Nurses’ Perceptions of the State of Patient Safety conducted by Harris Interactive. Registration required to download report.