Exploring healthcare professionals’ perceptions of medication errors in an adult oncology department in Saudi Arabia: A qualitative study

Waleed Alharbi*, Jennifer Cleland, Zoe Morrison

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)
11 Downloads (Pure)


Objective: Adverse events which result from medication errors are considered to be one of the most frequently encountered patient safety issues in clinical settings. We undertook a qualitative investigation to identify and explore factors relating to medication error in an adult oncology department in Saudi Arabia from the perspective of healthcare professionals. Methods: This was a qualitative study conducted in an adult oncology department in Saudi Arabia. After obtaining required ethical approvals and written consents from the participants, semi-structured interviews and focus group discussions were carried out for data collection. A stratified purposive sampling strategy was used to recruit medical doctors, pharmacists, and nurses. NVivo Pro version 11 was used for data analyses. Inductive thematic analysis was adopted in the primary coding of data while secondary coding of data was carried out deductively applying the Hospital Survey of Patient Safety Culture (HSOPSC) framework. Result: The total number of participants were 38. Majority of the participants were nurses (n = 24), females (n = 30), and not of Saudi nationality (n = 31) with an average age of 36 years old. Causes of medication errors were categorized into 6 themes. These causes were related teamwork across units, staffing, handover of medication related information, accepted behavioural norms, frequency of events reported, and non-punitive response to error. Conclusion: There were numerous causes for medication errors in the adult oncology department. This means substantive improvement in medication safety is likely to require multiple, inter-relating, complex interventions. More research should be conducted to examine context-specific interventions that may have the potential to improve medication safety in this and similar departments.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)176-181
Number of pages6
JournalSaudi Pharmaceutical Journal
Issue number2
Early online date16 Oct 2018
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2019


  • Adult oncology
  • Healthcare professionals
  • Medication errors
  • Qualitative study
  • Saudi Arabia


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