Pharmacist dispensing error: the effect of neighbourhood density and time pressure on accurate visual perception of drug names

A. Irwin, K. Mearns, M. Watson, J. Urquhart

Research output: Contribution to conferenceProceedingpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Objective: Two potential causes of dispensing error; neighbourhood density and time pressure, were analysed using a lab-based dispensing task. Method: 60 participants were asked to select a target drug name from a selection of mock drug packets shown on a computer screen, where one or four similar non-targets might be present. Half of the group (30) completed the task under a 12 minute time limit. Results: The number of similar drug names present had a significant impact on performance; four non-targets increased reaction times and decreased accuracy in comparison to trials where only one non-target was present. An additional deficit in accuracy associated with the imposed time limit was found. Conclusion: The reported findings indicate that the number of similarly named products in proximity to a target medication can have an adverse effect upon selection accuracy. This adverse effect is increased when a time constraint is applied.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages5
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sep 2011
Event55th Human Factors and Ergonomics Society Annual Meeting, HFES 2011 - Las Vegas, United States
Duration: 19 Sep 200123 Aug 2011


Conference55th Human Factors and Ergonomics Society Annual Meeting, HFES 2011
Abbreviated titleHFES 2011
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CityLas Vegas


  • dispensing error
  • drug names
  • adverse effects
  • visual perception

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