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Medication Errors

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Medication errors have been a problem in the medical field for many years. Medication errors are one of the most common types of error in the health-care field that affects the lives and safety of the patient (Schoenecker, 2007). The prevention of medication errors is possible, if the nurse uses the medication rights correctly during the administration process. Medication administration is a process that involves the ordering and distribution of medicines to the patient. It also involves the administration of medications ordered by the doctor for the patient.

There are many different healthcare professionals involved in this process; however, the nurse holds the highest responsibility in this process. Nurses play a key role in the prevention of medication errors that occur at different steps of the medication administration process. The studies on this topic were conducted, in order to find the most common reason behind these medication errors. One of the main keys to prevention is following the medication-right guidelines associated with medication administration (Sloan, 2009).

Medication Administration Process

Medication administration is a process that requires competency skills on all levels. The administration of medication involves prescribing, dispensing and administration of medicines doctors and nurses. There are many different healthcare professionals involved in this process. However, the nurse holds the highest responsibility in this process. The main reason this is true lies in the direct role nurses play in the medication administration process. Nurses are responsible for carrying out doctor’s orders on a routine basis. Nurses play a vital role in the delivery of medication to patients under their care (Wolf, 2007).

The nurse’s role is one that leads to either failure or success in this process. There is a possibility of medication errors at different phases of the administration process. Nurses and other professionals in this process need competency levels at the optimal level. The accuracy of the medication administration process depends highly on the knowledge and competency of the nurse. Effective use of the medication administration guidelines enables health care professionals to have a decrease in medication errors (Wolf, 2007).

Causes of Medication Errors

Medication errors are the most common type of error resulting in possible injury to the patient. Many studies have been performed in an attempt to find the most common reasons these occur. There are incidences where time-management plays a part in medication errors. The majority of medication errors result from failures within the medication system. Many guidelines and policies were developed throughout the years to assist in decreasing these occurrences. The most crucial guideline to follow is the Five Rights of medication administrations. The Five Rights is the main ingredient to accurate medication administration in the health field (Sloan, 2009). The five rights were created as a stepladder for nurses to use to help decrease medication errors.

The Five Rights of Medication Administration are the right patient, right drug, right dose, right route, and right time. The Five Rights actually have been extended and now includes right to know information about the drug, right to refuse the drug, right documentation (Sloan, 2009). The Rights associated with the medication administration process is crucial to the elimination of medication errors. Every facility has guidelines and policies in place to assist with these incidents. Nurses are responsible for following their facilities guidelines and policies in attempt to prevent harm to patients. Nurses are encouraged to follow accurately the guidelines and policies enforced by their facility. Nurses are protected from legal allegations if guidelines and policies were followed upon an error.

There are many different types of medication errors. The main classifications are dispensing errors, which happens during the delivery process by pharmacy. The doctors play a vital role in the prescribing process of medication errors. Transcribing of orders can lead to misspelled words, which leads to medication errors. Correct and accurate transcribing is crucial to safe and effective medication administration process (McIntyre & Courey, 2007). There are many different things that contribute to medication errors. Difficulty with medical drug names and packaging is a problem that leads to medication errors. Drugs that sound alike or spelled similar, can contribute to a medication error (McIntyre & Courey, 2007).

The need for continuing education and in-services about medication errors is vital to a decrease in errors. Nurses need to have a competency level that meets the demands of the medication administration process. Nurses need to be alert and aware of the medications given to their patients. Tiredness and exhaustion from the nurse is a contributing factor to many medication errors. Monthly in-services on the causes of medication errors can lead to a decrease in errors. Legible writing by doctors is crucial to safe medication administration on every level. Within the scope of nursing, biggest responsibility that holds risk for error is the medication administration process. Nurses’ competency levels and skills need to be at their highest for effective practice.

The main goal of nursing is to ensure optimal care for their patients. There are many policies and guidelines developed to assist with the decrease/prevention of medication errors (Sloan, 2009). Nurses have a responsibility in following the policies and guidelines at the facilities they work at. Many errors in the medication process occur because of nurses not following policies and procedures.

Effective nursing practice leads to high competency levels in the medication administration process. Low competency levels can result in many medication errors in the health field. Continuing education and monthly in-services are vital to the decrease in medication errors. One of the main keys to eliminating medication errors is competency at the highest level (McIntyre & Courey, 2007).

Legalities Nurses have the responsibility of not only following policies and guidelines to assist with prevention of medication errors, but also reporting them. The nurse has a moral duty to ensure that medication errors are reported promptly. Medication errors are reported according to the policies of different facilities. The statutory duty of nurses is to follow guidelines and policies in place. The statutory duty of the nurse also requires reporting of any errors within the medication administration process. If nurses follow their guidelines and policies in place and report any errors in the medication administration process, then the nurse is covered under any legal allegations upon an error (McIntyre & Courey, 2007).

The importance of prompt reporting of medication errors can lead to a significant decrease in adverse effects. The incidence of medication errors has decreased since bar-coding system of medications (e-mar). The e-mar system of medication administration has enabled a significant decrease in medication errors. Nurses are still responsible for following proper guidelines and policies for medication errors. Proper and accurate documentation of medication errors plays a vital role in the legal aspects of the medication administration process (Brooke, 2007). The importance of correct and accurate documentation can protect a nurse from harmful legal action. The nurse is covered and protected if all policies and guidelines are followed correctly, during a medication error.

The nurse is responsible for abiding by policies and guidelines concerning medication administration. The importance of a prompt response, by the nurse is crucial in counteracting an adverse effect. Prompt reporting of medication errors can lead to overall improvement in patient care and safety (Brooke, 2007). Conclusion Nurses play an important and vital role in the medication administration process. Nurses are one of the main keys to prompt and effective patient care of adverse effects to medication errors. Nurses are usually the first to respond and identify adverse effects from medication errors.

Nurses have a huge responsibility in the medication administration process. Nurses are held to high standards, with expectations of knowledge and competency on all levels. Continuing education to maintain competency at the highest level is crucial to patient care and safety (Madegowda et al., 2007). Continuing education on maintaining knowledge of facilities policies and guidelines are expected to maintain safety. Nurses’ ethical and moral standards are shown upon competency levels in the health care field. Nurses need to know that medication errors exist and are prone to happen.

Learning from the error is important to assist with prevention of further occurrences. Prevention of medication errors leads to a decrease in harmful or fatal adverse effects to patients (Madegowda et al., 2007). Nurses have a responsibility to seek continuing education regarding all policies and guidelines associated with medication administration. Continuing education and assessment of competency skills leads to enhanced patient care. Effective teaching and learning about medication errors leads to an increase in safe, effective patient care.

Brooke, P. (2007). Program update: Promoting patient safety and preventing medical errors.
Journal of Nursing Law, 11(3), 124-128.
Madegowda, B., Hill, P., & Anderson, M. (2007). Medication errors in a Rural Hospital.
Medsurg Nursing, 16(3), 175-180*
McIntyre, L., & Courey, T. (2007). Safe medication administration. Journal of Nursing Care
Quality, 22(1), 40-42.
Schoenecker, C. (2007). Nursing discipline of the five rights of medication administration.
Minnesota Nursing Accent, 79 (3), 14. Retrieved from EBSCO host. Wolz, Z. (2007). Pursuing safe medication use and the promise of technology. Medsurg Nursing, 16(2), 92-100. Sloan, A. (2009). The six r’s of medication administration. Virginia Nurses Today, 17(2), 9-10.

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