Avoid Medication Errors

Medication errors are the most common cause of patient injuries in a hospital. It is therefore critical that the nurse avoid situations that frequently result in medication errors. If an error occurs, assess the patient and notify the nurse in charge and the physician. Follow your hospital's policy for preparing an incident report. Review the steps that caused the error to occur.

Here are ways to avoid common errors:

• Avoid distractions when preparing medication.

• Avoid conversations while preparing medication.

• Only administer medications that you prepare.

• Only pour or prepare medication from containers that have full labels that are easy to read.

• Don't transfer drugs from one container to another container.

• Don't pour medications directly into your hand.

• Don't give medications that have expired.

• Don't guess about medication and doses. Always ask the prescriber.

• Don't administer drugs that are discolored, have sediment, or are cloudy unless this is a normal state for the medication.

• Don't leave medications by the bedside or with visitors.

• Keep medications in clear sight.

• Don't give medication if the patient says he/she has allergies to the drug or the drug group or if the patient says it does not look the same as the drug they normally take.

• Use both the patient's name and patient's number on the identification band to identify the patient.

• Don't administer medication with food or beverages unless the medication can be given with food and beverages.

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