An exploratory study into the use of Lean Six Sigma to reduce medication errors in the Norwegian public healthcare context

Antony, Jiju and Forthun, Shirin Charlotte and Trakulsunti, Yaifa and Farrington, Thomas and McFarlane, Julie and Brennan, Attracta and Dempsey, Mary (2019) An exploratory study into the use of Lean Six Sigma to reduce medication errors in the Norwegian public healthcare context. Leadership in Health Services, 32 (4). pp. 509-524. ISSN 1751-1879

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    Abstract

    Purpose: Medication errors are a significant cause of injury in Norwegian hospitals. The purpose of this study is to explore how Lean Six Sigma (LSS) has been used in the Norwegian public health-care context to reduce medication errors. Design/methodology/approach: A mixed method approach was used to gather data from participants working in the four regions served by the Norway health authorities. A survey questionnaire was distributed to 38 health-care practitioners and semi-structured interviews were conducted with 12 health-care practitioners. Findings: The study finds that the implementation of LSS in the Norwegian public health-care context is still in its infancy. This is amidst several challenges faced by Norwegian hospitals such as the lack of top-management support, lack of LSS training and coaching and a lack of awareness around the benefits of LSS in health care. Research limitations/implications: Because of the large geographical area, it was difficult to reach participants from all health regions in Norway. However, the study managed to assess the current status of LSS implementation through the participants’ perspectives. This is a fruitful area for future research whereby an action research methodology could be used. Originality/value: To the best of the authors’ knowledge, this is the first empirical study into the use of LSS methodology in reducing medication errors. In addition, this study is valuable for health-care practitioners and professionals as a guideline to achieve the optimal benefit of LSS implementation to reduce medication errors.