Avoid Medication Errors

All medical providers, whether they work in a hospital or in a prehospital setting, constantly fight to avoid medication errors.  The Joint Commission responsible for hospital oversight considers medication errors one of the biggest problems affecting patient safety.

Yet for those of us who work long hours, particularly those working 12 hour shifts overnight and with shorthanded staffing, medication errors are even more difficult to avoid.  Fatigue, lack of focus and concentration, and increased workload all lend to the reasons busy field providers make mistakes.  How do we make ourselves pay attention?

How Focus and Attention Work

This article from CNN Health looks at how me maintain attention span and gives tips on how to train our brains to pay better attention and focus when needed. The authors point out a few ideas on how to maintain better focus.  Some will work for busy nurses and some won’t, but all of them bear a closer look.

  • Get More Sleep – Hard to do when you work long hours but when weighed against the expense of losing not only your job, but possibly your career in the current marketplace, it might be a good idea to refocus some free time to power naps and a good night’s sleep on days off.
  • Manage Stress and Anger – We’ll be talking about stress management in December’s MedicCast Live podcast, but we all need to plan ways to deal with stress in our lives.  It’s hard to focus on a difficult-to-treat patient when we are worried about a fight with a spouse or a problem with a co-worker.  Learn to recognize stress reactions in yourself and make time for a brisk walk or some time on the treadmill or stairmaster.  Talk with a work counselor or supervisor about some assistance before it gets out of hand.

Read the article for more ideas and links on stress and tune in and join us live on Tuesday, December 9, 2008 at 10 PM ET for the next MedicCast Live episode.

What are your thoughts on dealing with stress, fatigue and attention span?  Share them with the rest of the Nursing Show community by clicking the comments link below and leaving your ideas here.

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