15 Effective Tips for Nurses to Prevent Medication Errors

Nursing is a daunting job, especially when you are new to it. First-year nurses often make mistakes that may prove to be painful for the patients. The most important point that nurses should remember before administering medication to patients is to be attentive and alert. Take as much information as you can about both the patient and drug to be administered. Never be afraid to ask questions because it may be a matter of life and death for a person. Be the kind of nurse that you would have liked to have if you were a patient. Many of the nursing students are taking nursing assignment help online to score good marks and become a successful Nurse to help others. These 15 tips should be followed by every nurse before administering medication to their patients to prevent any medication errors:

Tips for Nurses to Prevent Medication Errors

Study the different kinds of medications

Being a nurse, you should know about the different kinds of medications available. However, it is not humanly possible to know all the kinds of medication. So, nurses should try and read about the medication as and when they are prescribed to the patients, that they are handling. They should know the medication that they are administering to patients. There are books available on the different kinds of medication available. Nurses should know both the generic and the brand name of the drug to avoid confusion between different brands, that have differing dosages.

The following links provide relevant information as to the types of medications that should be used in different cases.







Refer to your nurse’s drug handbook regularly

This is a continuation of the above point. A nurse’s drug handbook is a vast source of information on most type of generic drugs. Nurses should check this handbook regularly before administering a drug to a patient. Over a period, you should be able to memorize some kinds of drugs and their uses. You will also know about their adverse effects. This knowledge will help you in administering the correct drug and its dosage to a patient.

For example: https://www.jblearning.com/catalog/productdetails/9781284144895

www.jblearning.com › Nursing > Drug Reference/Pharmacology

Generally Nurse Drug Handbook consists of

  • Drug Monographs A-Z
  • Drug Compatibility
  • Conversions and Calculations
  • Medication Reconciliation
  • Monitoring drug levels
  • Time for administration of drugs
  • Guidelines for handling, preparing and administrating hazardous drugs
  • Effect of Dialysis on drug therapy
  • Drug classes
  • And many more

Maintain precise communication with doctors and pharmacists

Medication prescriptions are sometimes lost in the midst of communication from doctors to nurses to pharmacists. Nurses should keep a pen and pad ready when the doctor is dictating a prescription. The nurse should repeat the prescription once to the doctor and confirm that it is correct. If the doctor does not have enough time for repetition, the nurse should again cross-check with the drug handbook to see whether the drug matches the patient’s case. The nurse should also make sure that the pharmacist has received the correct prescription by repeating and verifying it.

The right patient has to be identified

The most vital practice for preventing medication errors is to identify the correct patient. Nurses should ask the patients’ name and date of birth to make sure that they are administering the relevant drug to the correct patient. This has to be done even if you are administering the same medicine more than once in the same shift. Errors often occur when nurses think that they completely know each patient’s drug administration chart, and then they do not bother to ask the patient’s name. If the patient has difficulties in speaking, nurses should read the name tags on each patient’s bed to make sure that they are administering the right drug to the correct patient.

The following information must be strictly noted by the nurses like

  • Name
  • Identification number
  • Date of birth
  • Phone number
  • Social Security Number

At least two identifiers must be used like name and date of birth. Room number must not be included in these two identifiers

  • Previous medication history
  • Previous doctors attending the patient

Ensure that you administrate the right drug

Some drugs are deceptively similar-looking. As a nurse, it is your duty to check whether you are administering the right drug. Nurses should use the generic name as well along with the brand name to clear any confusion as to the drug’s contents and effects. There are many brand names that sound similar but have very different effects on a patient with a particular problem. Some similar brand names are Anacin and Anacin-3, Claritin and Claritin – D 24, Diovan and Dioval, Glucotrol and Glycotrol, Omacor and Amicar. Some drugs are packed similarly as well. Nurses should be very careful about this and ensure that they unpack the drug and administer the correct one to the patient.

Get information on the allergies that the patient has had

To prevent adverse drug reactions, nurses should know about any previous allergies that the patient might have had. This allergy could have been caused by a similar drug, and the patient might have forgotten to write that in his/her form. The nurse should inform the doctor about this immediately. It may happen that the previous medication prescriptions do not mention the known allergies of the patient. Therefore, the nurse should ask the patients themselves about their allergies before administering a new drug

Label the medication correctly

Although it is not advised to transfer drugs from the original container to a new one, yet it may be done due to many compulsions. Shortage of containers or a possibility of the original container being contaminated forces a transfer of the drug to another container. If this transfer does take place, nurse should ensure that proper labels are stuck on the face of the container for easy identification. Be sure that you have written the generic name as well along with the brand name. This helps in clearing confusion and removing the possibility of adverse effects on the patient.

How can nurses reduce medication errors?

Cross-check when new medication is ordered

Cross-checking with your team of nurses is the best way to ensure that the correct medication is administered. When new medication is ordered, nurses should ask their colleagues about its effects and adverse effects. There is no harm in taking a second opinion. In a field where saving human lives is the objective, asking and confirming about medication will not render you to be inexperienced or inferior in any way.

Remember that you are trying to heal a fellow human being and that you should do whatever it takes for that objective.

  • Check for the drug or medicine group
  • The Expiry date
  • Whether it has been previously used or not
  • Whether the drug class confirms with doctor’s prescription etc.

What are the consequences of medication errors?

Some consequences of medication errors are

  • Death of patients
  • Allergy
  • Late recovery
  • Immunological problems
  • Permanent or temporary damage to patient parts
  • Multiple side effects

What are the 7 rights when giving medication?

The 7Rs of medication that must be followed by all nurses

  • Right Medication
  • Right Patient
  • Right dosage
  • Right route
  • Right time
  • Right reason
  • Right documentation

Have one of your teammates cross-check high alert drugs

Drugs belonging to the High Alert category are so powerful that even the slightest discrepancy will directly affect the vital signs of the patient. Due to this potency of the high alert drugs, it is crucial that you have it cross-checked with a colleague or a superior to ensure that it is a necessity for a particular patient. Some High Alert drugs are – epinephrene, oxytocin IV, promethazine IV, opium tincture and numerous other drugs.

Make sure that you and the medication equipment are disinfected before touching a patient

Never touch patients or medical equipment without sterilizing your hands first. Nurses handle scores of patients every day and come in contact with various kinds of germs and bacteria. You should always wash your hands before and after coming in contact with a patient so that you do not transfer one patient’s germs to the other. Before and after touching surgical and other medical equipment, wash your hands in an aseptic manner to remove all kinds of harmful pathogens. Remember, infection is the first stage of an illness and it is your duty as a nurse to prevent it from happening, especially through you.

Handle older patients and patients prone to seizures with extra care

Many deaths have occurred in hospitals by patients falling because nurses did not handle them properly. You should handle older patients with utmost of care. Never ask them to rush through something. Their locomotive skills cannot match yours, so you have to be careful about their movements. Make sure that your grip is firm but not too tight. Talk to them in a friendly manner. If they do not cooperate, don’t hesitate in being firm with them. It is your duty to treat and heal them. Nurses should never let epileptic patients stand on their own. The electrical impulses in the brain may just become erratic in nature because they might have missed a medication dose or are having problems in sleeping. These precautions will always prevent medication errors as the nurses are alert to the specific needs of these kinds of patients.

Prioritize – attend to critical patients first

Prioritization is vital in completing tasks. For example, if a nurse has to choose between caring for a patient who has just come in with third-degree burns and a patient who has to take his routine evening walk, obviously the nurse will choose to do the former. That nurse can delegate the duty of the evening walk to another nurse or an intern. This way, the nurse can cater to the needs of the patient who is in a critical state without failing to assist the other patient whose evening walk is necessary for proper digestion.

While crushing and cutting pills, check for extended release coatings

Tablets that have an ‘extended release’ coating affect the patient’s body in small doses over a period. This tablet reduces the frequency of administering the medication but functions in the same manner as the multiple administrations. If you crush or cut them, the coating is lost and the tablet will have an immediate powerful effect on the patient. This effect is equivalent to an overdose of the medication. Nurses should be extra careful when crushing or cutting these extended release coating tablets.

Do not confuse ear drops for eye drops and vice-versa

Ear drops and eye drops are common in hospitals. These are given to numerous patients as part of the medication for various ailments. Since they look similar, nurses often get confused between them. If you apply eye drops in the ear, it will not be painful since eye drops are a gentle solution, but if you apply ear drops in a patient’s eye, he/she may experience burning and itching inside the eye and it will be very painful. Make sure that the two tubes are correctly labeled. Check the label every time you administer it to a patient even if you do it more than once in a shift.

Know the patient’s case before administering new medication

The last tip to prevent medication errors is a fairly obvious one – refer to the patient’s case file before administering any new medication. There have been cases when new medications were written in a sloppy manner and were illegible. They were completely different than the medication that the patient actually required. For example, Diovan is used to treat high blood pressure, while Dioval is used to increase the production of estrogen in females and is also used by men to treat prostate cancer. Administering the wrong drug can be fatal. Refer to the patient’s case history thoroughly and then ask the doctor whether the new drug has been correctly prescribed.

Nursing is a self-fulfilling profession where you get to serve the old, diseased and ill patients. It provides a plenty of career opportunities from entry level practitioner to Hospital managers and so. While pursuing Nursing as a career, you would often encounter numerous assignments, related to patient care and treatment. It is not always possible to handle the assignments on one’s own, owing to the levels of complexity and details involved. Myassignment help.com is committed to make Nursing one of the best professions by providing quality assignment and tutoring support. Connect to myassignmenthelp.com today to make your Nursing career worthwhile.

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