Reducing medication errors using lean six sigma methodology in a Thai hospital: an action research study
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Trakulsunti, Yaifa, Antony, Jiju, Dempsey, Mary, & Brennan, Attracta. (2020). Reducing medication errors using lean six sigma methodology in a Thai hospital: an action research study. International Journal of Quality & Reliability Management. doi:10.1108/IJQRM-10-2019-0334
Abstract Purpose The purpose of this paper is to illustrate the use of Lean Six Sigma (LSS) and its associated tools to reduce dispensing errors in an inpatient pharmacy of a teaching hospital in Thailand. Design/methodology/approach The action research methodology was used to illustrate the implementation of Lean Six Sigma through the collaboration between the researcher and participants. The project team followed the Lean Six Sigma Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, Control (DMAIC) methodology and applied its tools in various phases of the methodology. Findings The number of dispensing errors decreased from 6 to 2 incidents per 20,000 inpatient days per month between April 2018 and August 2019 representing a 66.66% reduction. The project has improved the dispensing process performance resulting in dispensing error reduction and improved patient safety. The communication channels between the hospital pharmacy and the pharmacy technicians have also been improved. Research limitations/implications This study was conducted in an inpatient pharmacy of a teaching hospital in Thailand. Therefore, the findings from this study cannot be generalized beyond the specific setting. However, the findings are applicable in the case of similar contexts and/or situations. Originality/value This is the first study that employs a continuous improvement methodology for the purpose of improving the dispensing process and the quality of care in a hospital. This study contributes to an understanding of how the application of action research can save patients' lives, improve patient safety and increase work satisfaction in the pharmacy service.