Publication Date

Spring 2014

Degree Type

Doctoral Project

Degree Name

Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP)



First Advisor

Sylvia Miller


Medication, Safety, Assessment, Coding, Harm


The use of medications for hospitalized patients is universal, and unfortunately medication-related adverse outcomes are common. The accurate assessment of medication-related harm in hospitalized patients is foundational to the development of an effective hospital medication safety program. Every hospital has its own unique "fingerprint" of harm, accurate determination of the nature of medication-related harm specific to each hospital is necessary to facilitate prevention of that harm with specific and effective interventions. This project has provided a community hospital with its first systematic methodology for assessing medication-related harm. The methodology is adapted from that used in a recent national-level study.

Several commonly accepted methods of assessment of medication-related adverse events are in use, but no single method is capable of giving a complete picture of harm at the hospital level. Using a method nearly identical to one employed in large national studies the author examined rates and types of medication-related adverse outcomes in a California community hospital. The hospital had about one-third the national rate of adverse events. An incidental finding was a 4-year pattern of increasing incidence of adverse outcomes followed by 2 years of declining incidence of adverse outcomes. The information gained from the novel assessment method provided a clearer picture of patient harm, a basis for a more effective medication safety plan, and promoted interprofessional collaboration.


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