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A critique is a crucial mechanism of scientific verification and improvement, and medical research is one of the most significant areas of study, both for science and human society as a whole. An object of this study will be an article by Aires et al. (2016). This study investigates the association between the workload of nurse staff in Brazilian hospitals and medication errors. It is based on the data received from the qualitative survey of Brazilian nurses.
The authors had a sample of 49 subjects, 93% of them of the female gender, and received the results which show that high workload correlates with numbers of medication researches. Another finding was that the main reasons for higher workloads are understaffed nursing teams and insufficient numbers of nurses in comparison to the number of patients. In addition to that, it has been found that there are previously underestimated factors affecting the possibility of medication error. They include problems in communication between the hospital staff and lack of knowledge about safety protocols for medical practices among the specialists and nursing personnel.
The conceptual framework of the reviewed article is located in the introduction section. It primarily consists of providing a context for the research, as it describes the terminology of the study and background information, such as the description of the Brazilian National Patient Safety Program, its protocols, and the effect that it caused on the Brazilian health care system. As such, this work provides only minimal support to the conceptual framework, and the authors do not highlight the theoretical basis for their study. It is a major flaw in the format of an article.
In contrast to the framework, the assumptions are more accessible to identify in the structure of this article. As mentioned above, they are located in the introduction section of an article. The authors assume that the workload of nurses affects their working abilities, leading them to commit medication errors. Another assumption of the authors is that nurses and nursing teams play a fundamental role in the medication system.
Thus, their actions are decisive in the prevention of possible medication errors. Usually, if research lacks a theoretical framework, it is unclear where assumptions originate from unless those are common sense. In this case, however, the assumptions are indeed logically derived from the knowledge that overworked employees are more at risk of making mistakes and about the work responsibilities of the nurses and nursing teams, so they are easy to identify.
In this article, the limitations are placed in the conclusion section instead of the more widely used discussion section. In that, the authors note that the sample and geography of the research are insufficient. The reason is the fact that the area of study is limited to the hospital of southern Brazil and the specific nursing staff due to a time limitation on the researcher team. As such, it is impossible to generalize the results of this research, limiting its potential practical use. Another problem highlighted by the research team is the difficulty of the nurses in collaborating and participating in the research. Researchers state that the results of their research have been verified and that most of the nurses that participated in the survey have been reporting all medication errors that occurred in their work units.
Thus, while the structure of this work is not clear and does not follow the standard guidelines, researchers have highlighted limitations of their work, pointing out the small sample and specific location that prevents the data from this research from being used for the generalization of the data.
The hypothesis of the survey is that there is an identifiable association between the workload of nurses and the possibility of medication error. The purpose of this article is to study the levels of contribution that workload has to the possibility of an error occurring. The research question of the reviewed study is about the levels of workload contribution to the occurrence of medication errors among the nursing staff. For the resolution of this question, researchers analyze possible correlations between the levels of workload and reporting of medication errors by the nurses, along with different factors that could contribute to the errors committed by the hospital staff.
Results of the research, provided by the analysis of quantitative data collected via the instrument by the authors, support this hypothesis. Data was further analyzed by descriptive and inferential statistics. Results showed that most of the participating staff had experienced some amount of medication errors, with dose errors being the most prevalent one. The number of staff has contributed to the probability of such an error occurring. It should be noted that the hypothesis in this article is worded in a concise, descriptive, and declarative sentence following the guidelines. It is declared after the research question.
In conclusion, it should be said that this article, while lacking some criteria and having some structural issues, is following the set guidelines for the scientific article. With no theoretical and minimal conceptual framework, it has easily identified assumptions, has a concise description of the research limitations, even if it is placed in a different section than usually and straightforwardly formulated hypothesis. As such, this article adheres to the modern scientific standards concerning the structure of the research.
Aires, K. F., Barlem, J. G. T., de Souza, C. S., Rocha L. P., de Carvalho, D. P., & Hirsch, C. D. (2016). Contribution of the work load to the occurrence of medication errors in nursing. Journal of Nursing UFPE On Line, 10(12), 4572-4580.