Original Article

Near field communications technology and the potential to reduce medication errors through multidisciplinary application

Emer O’Connell, Joe Pegler, Elaine Lehane, Vicki Livingstone, Nora McCarthy, Laura J. Sahm, Sabin Tabirca, Aoife O’Driscoll, Mark Corrigan


Background: Patient safety requires optimal management of medications. Electronic systems are encouraged to reduce medication errors. Near field communications (NFC) is an emerging technology that may be used to develop novel medication management systems.
Methods: An NFC-based system was designed to facilitate prescribing, administration and review of medications commonly used on surgical wards. Final year medical, nursing, and pharmacy students were recruited to test the electronic system in a cross-over observational setting on a simulated ward. Medication errors were compared against errors recorded using a paper-based system.
Results: A significant difference in the commission of medication errors was seen when NFC and paper-based medication systems were compared. Paper use resulted in a mean of 4.09 errors per prescribing round while NFC prescribing resulted in a mean of 0.22 errors per simulated prescribing round (P=0.000). Likewise, medication administration errors were reduced from a mean of 2.30 per drug round with a Paper system to a mean of 0.80 errors per round using NFC (P<0.015). A mean satisfaction score of 2.30 was reported by users, (rated on seven-point scale with 1 denoting total satisfaction with system use and 7 denoting total dissatisfaction).
Conclusions: An NFC based medication system may be used to effectively reduce medication errors in a simulated ward environment.

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