Medication errors put all health care professionals under a microscope. The intense scrutiny has many licensed health care providers fearing disciplinary repercussions from their licensing boards as a result of an error, according to an Institute for Safe Medication Practices survey. Despite widespread recognition that blame and punishment for mistakes are counterproductive to patient safety, the 1572 respondents were concerned about the magnitude of the reactions. The respondents, polled in early 2005, included pharmacists, physicians, registered nurses (RNs), and licensed practical nurses.
Participants expected an increasing severity of punishment by the licensing boards as patient outcomes deteriorate. Of the respondents, 93% believed that their licenses would be restricted in some form if they were involved in a fatal medication error. If the patient was harmed but did not die, 22% of the respondents believed that license probation would occur. The respondents also thought that there would be a monetary fine included for errors. When polled about remedial education, 50% of all the participants believed that it would be mandatory in the aftermath of either a harmful or fatal medication error.
When asked about the value of newsletters published by their licensing boards, 16% of the respondents found the publications important to patient safety and quality; 33% found them somewhat helpful; and 52% were not sure or did not find the publications helpful at all. Overall, pharmacists found the publications more helpful than did RNs.