How to Prevent Medication Errors: Effective Tips for Nurses
Nurses are part of the patient care team and have a responsibility in preventing medication errors. A flaw in medication can put the life of a patient in grave danger. Nursing profession entails preventing medication errors, and these tips help nurses to achieve prevention.1.Create proper medication labels
It is not safe to put drugs into a different container other than the original package. You must properly label the new container well if you must put medicine in it. Ensure that you indicate the dosage, expiry date, generic and brand name of the dosage. The new medication label should be in narrow and straightforward font that everyone can read. It is more convenient if you can peel an old label from the previous canister containing the drugs and stick it to the new one.2.Inquire about the allergy status of patients
Some patients have allergies to particular drugs, and it is essential to make a habit of asking before dispensing. Nurses can prevent unnecessary drug reactions by finding out from patients if they have known drug allergies before administering new medications. There are occasions where patients forget about their drug allergies during the initial history taking. It is important to ask them another time soon after noticing early symptoms of adverse reaction Healthcare workers may also forget to record known drug allergies of a patient in a chart. It makes it essential to rectify such oversight by verifying and asking patients about drug allergies before starting new medications without assuming that other medical professionals asked the question.3.Check with a drug handbook
It is sometimes not clear about the appropriate drug to administer for a particular illness. In such an instance a nurse should double check with a drug handbook to determine the correct medicine. A drug handbook has plenty of valuable information about different drugs including their incompatibilities, adverse reactions and precautions. Develop the habit of checking drug information before giving it to patients when you have time to read. Frequent reading allows memorizing of relevant information on different types of medicine which is essential when administering.4.Maintain clear communication
Information on medication can be lost during communication between nurses, pharmacists, and doctors. It is essential to take precautions that prevent miscommunication when carrying out orders for new medication. One of the precautions is to write the instructions when receiving orders on the phone and repeat everything to confirm. Legibly write the names of medicine and avoid improper abbreviations.5.Clarify new medication orders in the case of doubt
It is not wrong to double check information about medicine from colleagues. It is even necessary to clarify with a doctor if there is a reason to think that newly ordered medication might do more harm to patients that the intended therapeutic effect.6.Crush and cut up pills carefully
Some tablets usually hypoglycemic and antihypertensive drugs contain extended release coatings. Nurses should be extremely careful in crushing or cutting such drugs because they produce potent effects fast when a patient takes them without an extended release coating.Nurses should first get clarification from a doctor about crushing medicine if it is compelling to give it through a nasogastric tube. The extended-release tablet is not for crushing.7.Take extra precautions with eye drops and eardrops
Some patients need eardrops, and eye drops at the same time creating a risk to confuse the two. Sticking a simple marker to each can help to prevent confusion of using them interchangeably. Apply a colored sticker to one side of a container indicating if it an eye or ear drop and its generic name. The label should also have the name of a patient if a nurse has a lot of medications to administer to different patients. This is a simple technique that takes a short time to complete but creates safety measures when giving medications to patients.
Nurses should always have the safety of their patients in mind while administering medications to prevent errors. Nurses who are new to the profession should seek guidance about anything that they doubt from their seniors. Seasoned nurses have more techniques on how to prevent medication errors.