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How to prevent medication errors from occurring

Nowadays, with the wide range of medications on the market, health professionals in Missouri and across the country should do all they can to avoid making a mistake when administering medication to patients. There are some basic procedures that can help keep medication errors from happening.

One such procedure is for nurses to be familiar with their institution's guidelines, regulations and policies pertaining to medication administration. The policies provide important information about ordering, transcribing, administering and documenting medication. In addition, the guidelines will give nurses an understanding about certain medications that look or sound the same, black box warning labels and the Beers' list. Besides adhering to hospital policies and guidelines, nurses must follow the five rights of medication administration, which includes prescribing the right medication to the right patient and giving the right dosage at the right time in the proper way

It is also important that nurses follow the precise storage procedures for medications. For medications to be effective, some need to be refrigerated, and some need to be kept at room temperature. Moreover, since medications have expiration dates, medical practitioners are required to write dates on multidose vials before storing them away to keep them from being used after they expire.

Double and triple checking is also another way nurses can make sure they are giving the correct medication to their patients. For example, a nurse starting a new shift could review the new orders to make sure every patient's order precisely matches the treatment administration record or the medication administration record and the doctor's order. Furthermore, nurses could read back a patient's medication transcription to another nurse or the prescribing doctor to verify the information.

Hospital patients who have suffered a severe injury because they were given the wrong medication or the incorrect medication dosage may be able to pursue damages via a medical malpractice claim. An attorney who handles these types of claims could possibly guide the victim through the process.

Source: Minority Nurse, "10 Strategies for Preventing Medication Errors", Dexter Vickerie, Dec. 31, 2015

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