Medication Errors in Nursing


Nurses shoulder the entire responsibility of administering medication and ensuring that the patient complies with the treatment regimen. However, lack of basic pharmacological and drug administration skills, as well as knowledge, will often result into medication error. Therefore, nurses must be vigilant, knowledgeable and skillful when it comes to drug administration. Medical errors can attract adverse outcomes for the patient and legal actions against the nurse responsible(“CNPS – Medication Errors,” n.d.). The medical error may be uncomplicated with only one nurse involved or can be due to a series of interrelated factors such as the environment and the entire team of medical practitioners. One of the best solutions to address medication errors is obtaining a comprehensive patient medication profile that will be used as a reference point during admissions, inter-hospital transfers, and home discharge. This paper seeks to discuss the medication errors in nursing by covering the factors to consider before administering medication, the professional requirements for drug administration, consequences related to medication errors and how to avoid making errors.

 Factors to Consider before Administering Medication

 The first thing before a nurse administers medication he or she should verify patient’s information. The information includes the right patient, the right drug, the right dosage, the right route of administration and the right time. The nurse should take a full medical history of the patient to identify possible drug reactions. Another important factor to consider drugs information. The medical practitioner must verify that the drug he or she is about to give the patient is the one prescribed has not expired and it is the right quantity. Also, effective communication is a crucial factor in avoiding medication errors. This entails both verbal and written communication. Once the nurse administers a drug to the patient, he or she should document to avoid the risk of overdosing the patient by the incoming shift nurses.

 Some medication errors occur simply because of wrong drug packaging and labeling. Therefore, all drugs should be correctly packaged and labeled. Moreover, medication storage and distribution can be a factor contributing to medication errors. Medication errors increase when there is an uncontrolled supply of drugs in the hospital coupled with easy access, duplication errors are common. Environmental factors such as poor lighting, inadequate working space, excess patients, and destructions during drug administration. Most importantly, staff education and competency can contribute to medication errors (“Medication errors,” n.d.).

 The Professional Requirements for Drug Administration

 The professional regulations help the medical practitioners remain on course while executing their duties. For instance, the nursing standards of practice require that the nurse administers medication according to the right patient, drug, dosage, time, and route. A nurse who strictly observes the guidelines will make very few errors or none at all. The nurse is empowered to seek clarifications for any drug he or she finds unclearly prescribed before administering it. This involves errors in dosages and efficiency levels. Also, the nurses are expected to know the pharmacodynamics and pharmacokinetics of any drug before they administer (“CNPS – Medication Errors,” n.d.).

 Implications of Medication Errors

 The repercussions of medication errors are based on various factors such as the work record of the medical practitioner, the effects of the error on the patient and the action taken to counter the error. Medication errors could result to an impromptu patient safety assessment by the hospital management to find out the cause. Also, the medical practitioner responsible for the error faces the disciplinary actions as well as suspension from duty. If the medical practitioner does not change, he or she is dismissed. At a higher level, the medical practitioner faces the professional discipline. Once the professional body is notified of recurrent medical errors by any medical practitioner, it can order the nurse to engage in refresher studies, suspend or terminate the license (“CNPS – Medication Errors,” n.d.).

Another adverse consequence of medication error is a civil lawsuit by the patient or the family. The patient who is fully aware of his or her rights can decide to seek legal action against the nurse and by extension the health institution for causing medication errors while on the course of seeking medical assistance. The legal bodies may demand that the patient receives full restitution and the medical practitioner responsible for making the errors be stopped from practicing or sentenced to prison for negligence.

 How to Avoid Medication Errors

 The medical practitioner, for this case the nurse, can avoid making medication errors by strictly observing all requirements of drug administration and using accurate measurement scale, dosage calculation as well as double-checking with a nurse assistant or another nurse. Also, it is imperative that the nurse must be knowledgeable about the drug to administer. He or she should know the mode of action of the drug, drug interaction, side effects and the action to take in the case of drug overdose. The nurse must know his or her patient well before administering medication. Furthermore, the nurse must be updated of new developments in the field of practice, avoid administering medication reconstituted by someone else, seek clarification for unclear medication instructions and document medication administered or prescribed in the Kardex or patients' files. It is also important to understand and follow the hospital policy in drug administration to avoid medication errors (“CNPS – Medication Errors,” n.d.).