Implementation of an audit with feedback knowledge translation intervention to promote medication error reporting in health care: A protocol

Alison M. Hutchinson, Anne E. Sales, Vanessa Brotto, Tracey K. Bucknall

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleOtherpeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Health professionals strive to deliver high-quality care in an inherently complex and error-prone environment. Underreporting of medical errors challenges attempts to understand causative factors and impedes efforts to implement preventive strategies. Audit with feedback is a knowledge translation strategy that has potential to modify health professionals' medical error reporting behaviour. However, evidence regarding which aspects of this complex, multi-dimensional intervention work best is lacking. The aims of the Safe Medication Audit Reporting Translation (SMART) study are to: 1. Implement and refine a reporting mechanism to feed audit data on medication errors back to nurses 2. Test the feedback reporting mechanism to determine its utility and effect 3. Identify characteristics of organisational context associated with error reporting in response to feedback Methods/design: A quasi-experimental design, incorporating two pairs of matched wards at an acute care hospital, is used. Randomisation occurs at the ward level; one ward from each pair is randomised to receive the intervention. A key stakeholder reference group informs the design and delivery of the feedback intervention. Nurses on the intervention wards receive the feedback intervention (feedback of analysed audit data) on a quarterly basis for 12 months. Data for the feedback intervention come from medication documentation point-prevalence audits and weekly reports on routinely collected medication error data. Weekly reports on these data are obtained for the control wards. A controlled interrupted time series analysis is used to evaluate the effect of the feedback intervention. Self-report data are also collected from nurses on all four wards at baseline and at completion of the intervention to elicit their perceptions of the work context. Additionally, following each feedback cycle, nurses on the intervention wards are invited to complete a survey to evaluate the feedback and to establish their intentions to change their reporting behaviour. To assess sustainability of the intervention, at 6 months following completion of the intervention a point-prevalence chart audit is undertaken and a report of routinely collected medication errors for the previous 6 months is obtained. This intervention will have wider application for delivery of feedback to promote behaviour change for other areas of preventable error and adverse events.

Original languageEnglish
Article number70
Number of pages9
JournalImplementation Science
Publication statusPublished - 19 May 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Audit
  • Behaviour change
  • Clinical decision-making
  • Feedback
  • Implementation
  • Knowledge translation
  • Medication safety
  • Organisational context
  • Quality improvement

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