Publication Date


Degree Type

Master's Project

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)



First Advisor

Colleen O'Leary-Kelley

Second Advisor

Phyllis M. Connolly


Objective: To describe medical-surgical nurses' perceptions of frequent causes of medication errors, of what constitutes a medication error, and of what are the barriers and empowerments to reporting. The study also explored the nurses' perceptions of the effect of physician order entry (POE) and barcode medication administration (BCMA) on medication errors. Background: Causes of medication errors have been investigated by numerous researchers in an attempt to determine safe medication administration process. Information technology (IT) systems enhance patient safety. No published studies were found on nurses' perceptions of medication errors in a setting with IT systems in place. Method: A descriptive design was used to survey a convenience sample of 61 medical-surgical nurses at a Veterans Affairs Medical Center utilizing the Nurses' Perceptions of Medication Errors Modified Ulanimo 2005 tool. Results: The primary perceived cause of medication errors based on 25 responses was nurse's failure to correctly identify the patient before medication administration. Less than one third of medication errors are reported. Respondents' perception of their knowledge of medication errors does not correlate with their actual knowledge. All nurses surveyed perceived POE and BCMA decrease medication errors. Conclusions: Medication errors continue to happen despite sophisticated IT systems available. Empowerment to reporting medication errors is critical to ensuring safe quality care.