Failure-Free Pharmacies? : An Exploration of Dispensing Errors and Safety Culture in Swedish Community Pharmacies

Abstract: Quality in pharmacies includes aspects such as error management and safety issues. The objective of this thesis was to explore these aspects of quality in Swedish community phar-macies. The specific aims were to compare a paper-based and a web-based reporting system for dispensing errors, regarding reporting behaviour and data quality. The impact of an intervention; a technical barrier, for preventing dispensing errors was evaluated. A survey tool, the Safety Attitudes Questionnaire (SAQ), was adapted to Swedish pharmacies and used to describe the safety culture in these pharmacies. The potential relationship between safety culture and dispensing errors was also explored. Data was retrieved from the paper- and web-based reporting systems, semi-structured interviews as well as from a survey, using SAQ. The change in reporting system for dispensing errors increased the reporting of errors and enhanced the completeness of reported data. The web-based system facilitated follow-up and identification of preventive measures, but was associated with implementation problems. The intervention was associated with a significant decrease in the overall number of dispensing errors and, specifically, reports on errors with the wrong strength, and errors caused by registration failure in the pharmacy computers. The Swedish version of the survey tool, SAQ, demonstrated satisfying psychometric properties. No correlation between the SAQ Safety Climate dimension and dispensing errors was seen, while a positive relationship between the SAQ Stress Recognition dimension and dispensing errors was established. A number of other pharmacy characteristics, such as number of dispensed prescription items and employees, displayed positive relationships with dispensing errors. Staff age demonstrated a negative relationship with dispensing errors while other demographic variables such as national education background showed a positive relationship.