Preventing Medication Errors Using Lean and Six Sigma

Document Type

Conference Proceeding

Publication Date


MeSH Terms

Total Quality Management, Medication Errors, Delivery of Health Care

Subject: LCSH

Lean manufacturing, Six sigma (Quality control standard), Medication errors, Medical care


Industrial Engineering | Mechanical Engineering


Medical errors are the third leading cause of deaths in the United States. One category of medical errors is medication errors, which are failures in the medication delivery process that results in or has the potential to lead to harm to patient. Medication errors are associated with significant financial and medical consequences, thus receiving attention of healthcare managers. The cost of medication errors to the U.S. healthcare industry is $42 billion annually. Medication errors could happen at any stage of the process including prescribing, transcribing, dispensing, administering and monitoring. Lean and Six Sigma are two proven process improvement methodologies which have been adopted by the healthcare industry. Their application areas in healthcare are increasing continuously. Literature provides examples of Lean and Six Sigma implementation to reduce medication errors, which consist of mostly single case reports and literature review articles. These studies support that Lean and Six Sigma are applicable in reducing medication errors. However, an understanding of the nature of the medication errors and any contributing factors to guide Lean and Six Sigma efforts can further increase the effectiveness of their implementation. This paper presents a study of Lean and Six Sigma implementation based on the classification of medication errors, whether errors occur in planning of an action or in its execution.


Copyright, American Society for Engineering Management, 2019

Paper appeared in the Proceedings of the International Annual Conference of the American Society for Engineering Management; Huntsville, (2019).

Full-text access is available to the University of New Haven community.

Publisher Citation

Erdil, N. O., Shekhar, S., & Shah, A. (2019). Preventing Medication Errors Using Lean And Six Sigma. Huntsville: American Society for Engineering Management (ASEM).