Systematic review of medication safety assessment methods

Meyer-Massetti, Carla; Cheng, Christine M; Schwappach, David L B; Paulsen, Lynn; Ide, Brigid; Meier, Christoph R; Guglielmo, B Joseph (2011). Systematic review of medication safety assessment methods. American journal of health-system pharmacy, 68(3), pp. 227-240. Bethesda, Md.: American Society of Health-System Pharmacists 10.2146/ajhp100019

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Purpose The accuracy, efficiency, and efficacy of four commonly recommended medication safety assessment methodologies were systematically reviewed.

Methods Medical literature databases were systematically searched for any comparative study conducted between January 2000 and October 2009 in which at least two of the four methodologies—incident report review, direct observation, chart review, and trigger tool—were compared with one another. Any study that compared two or more methodologies for quantitative accuracy (adequacy of the assessment of medication errors and adverse drug events) efficiency (effort and cost), and efficacy and that provided numerical data was included in the analysis.

Results Twenty-eight studies were included in this review. Of these, 22 compared two of the methodologies, and 6 compared three methods. Direct observation identified the greatest number of reports of drug-related problems (DRPs), while incident report review identified the fewest. However, incident report review generally showed a higher specificity compared to the other methods and most effectively captured severe DRPs. In contrast, the sensitivity of incident report review was lower when compared with trigger tool. While trigger tool was the least labor-intensive of the four methodologies, incident report review appeared to be the least expensive, but only when linked with concomitant automated reporting systems and targeted follow-up.

Conclusion All four medication safety assessment techniques—incident report review, chart review, direct observation, and trigger tool—have different strengths and weaknesses. Overlap between different methods in identifying DRPs is minimal. While trigger tool appeared to be the most effective and labor-efficient method, incident report review best identified high-severity DRPs.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Further Contribution)


04 Faculty of Medicine > Pre-clinic Human Medicine > Institute of Social and Preventive Medicine (ISPM)

UniBE Contributor:

Schwappach, David




American Society of Health-System Pharmacists




Factscience Import

Date Deposited:

04 Oct 2013 14:22

Last Modified:

10 Sep 2017 17:41

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URI: (FactScience: 212834)

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