Improving the Safety of Psychiatric Consumers

Project Details

Improving medication safety is a national priority for Australian psychiatric facilities. Medication administration errors by nurses have serious consequences including patient injury, death, and increased health-care costs. Nurses frequently cite that one of the main causes of medication administration errors are distractions and interruptions by patients, co-workers, conversation, noise, increases in activity, and congestion in the workspace during medication rounds.

Nurses administering medications in a medical-surgical setting experienced significantly fewer distractions than usual when they used a 'focused protocol' designed to supportconcentration on medication administration tasks. The protocol stipulated that during medication rounds, medication nurses were to use a medication administration checklist andrefrain from engaging in activities or conversations unrelated to medication administration tasks. Even fewer distractions were experienced when medication nurses following the'focused protocol' also wore red safety vests with the words "do not disturb" printed on the front and back ('red-vest protocol'). Nurses who used the red vest protocol experienced 87% fewer distractions than those performing their medication rounds as usual.

The effect of these protocols in reducing medication error rates has not been directly measured. In addition, these interventions have not been trialed in psychiatric settings where the organisation and delivery of care, as well as the characteristics of the consumers' conditions, differ from those in medical-surgical units. The proposed project aims to test the effectiveness of 'focused', and 'red-vest' protocols within three acute inpatient psychiatric units.


Research Group

Centre for Psychiatric Nursing

Faculty Research Themes


School Research Themes

Sensory Neuroscience, Practice and service improvement

Key Contact

For further information about this research, please contact the research group leader.

Department / Centre


Unit / Centre

Centre for Psychiatric Nursing