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Quality of care is important in health care systems, and reducing medication errors is an effective approach to improve health care quality because medication errors are not rare and can cause adverse patient outcomes. Current researchers have adopted contextual, macro level methods to study the medication administration process, but the association between cognitive factors and the nurses' abilities to identify medication errors remains unclear. We used visual scanning patterns to study how nurses complete the medication administration process. In our study, we focused on a specific type of visual scanning pattern: nurses' two fixation scanpaths. We sought to find links between whether nurses identifies a patient identification error while administering a medication and their two fixation scanpaths. The data used in this study was collected in an experiment conducted at a Western Massachusetts hospital. Nurse participants wore an eye tracking device to record their eye movements while they performed a simulated medication administration process. We coded the eye tracking videos and analyzed the generated sequence data based on whether nurses identified a patient identification error during the process. We found that two fixation scanpaths are different between the two groups of nurses, those who identified the error and who did not. This finding may have implications for the design of medication administration protocol development.
Date of Conference: 29-29 April 2011