An exploratory study into the use of lean six sigma to reduce medication errors in the Norwegian public healthcare context

Jiju Antony (Department of Business Management, Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh, UK)
Shirin Charlotte Forthun (Department of Business Management, Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh, UK)
Yaifa Trakulsunti (Department of Business Management, Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh, UK)
Thomas Farrington (Department of Business Management, Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh, UK)
Julie McFarlane (Hunter Centre for Entrepreneurship, University of Strathclyde, Glasgow, UK)
Attracta Brennan (College of Engineering and Informatics, National University of Ireland Galway, Galway, UK)
Mary Dempsey (College of Engineering and Informatics, National University of Ireland Galway, Galway, UK)

Leadership in Health Services

ISSN: 1751-1879

Publication date: 4 July 2019

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.

Keywords

Citation

Antony, J., Forthun, S., Trakulsunti, Y., Farrington, T., McFarlane, J., Brennan, A. and Dempsey, M. (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, Vol. ahead-of-print No. ahead-of-print. https://doi.org/10.1108/LHS-12-2018-0065

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Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2019, Emerald Publishing Limited

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