Demystifying medication safety: Making sense of the terminology

Stacy Ackroyd-Stolarz, Nicole Hartnell, Neil J. MacKinnon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Background: Although there is a growing interest in medication safety, there remains much confusion about the terminology used to describe the problem. Some have described the classification of medication safety terminology as haphazard. Objective: The purpose of this commentary is to help provide some direction by clarifying the terminology. Methods: A review of the medication safety literature was performed. A description of commonly used terms is provided and the implications of the misuse of terminology are discussed. Results: There are inconsistencies in the definitions of commonly used terms that may affect the accuracy of event rates. This may have an adverse impact on the establishment of medication safety priorities and on the validity of cross-jurisdictional comparisons. Conclusions: As the medication safety literature continues to expand, it is imperative that standardized terminology be adopted and used consistently.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)280-289
Number of pages10
JournalResearch in Social and Administrative Pharmacy
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2006
Externally publishedYes


  • Adverse drug events
  • Adverse drug reactions
  • Drug-related morbidity
  • Drug-related problems
  • Drug-therapy problems
  • Medication errors
  • Medication misadventures
  • Medication safety

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacy
  • Pharmaceutical Science


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