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Steps for avoiding medication errors

Jan 4, 2016 | Medication Errors

Nurses in New York can reduce the chances of making a medication error by following some simple steps. First, they should observe what is known as the five rights for medication administration. This means transcribing the medication and making sure the right dosage of the right medication is prescribed for the right patient. It should also use the correct route and timing.

Nurses should verify those five rights when a patient is transferred from another unit or institution. They should also double or triple check and even have a doctor or nurse read the order back.

Using name alerts for patients with common names can help prevent confusion between those patients regarding medication. Careful documentation and ensuring that medication is correctly labeled is also important. Using a zero in front of decimal points can avoid any confusion about amounts.

Medicines should be stored properly based on properties such as sensitivity to temperature. It is important to correctly label the opening date for multidose vials. Nurses should also consider keeping a medication guide handy. Doing so may be part of an institution’s overall policies and guidelines regarding medication, and they should stay current with these rules as well.

A medication error can have serious consequences for a patient and might result in serious illness or injury or even death. Medication errors can be caused by a number of factors including physician error, a failure to check for allergies or a dosage mistake. If this occurs, the patient or the family of the patient may want to consult an attorney about whether medical malpractice has occurred and if filing a lawsuit might be an appropriate course of action. A settlement out of court or compensation from a court case may help pay for the additional expenses sustained by such an error as well as covering other costs.