Medication errors is one of the most common and also most serious mistake nurses are prone to committing.

Why nurses?

It is because we are the ones who administer the medications. Even professional nurses can sometimes make medication errors particularly in dosing and route of administration.

Here are some tips on how to give medications safely and avoid harming the patient.

1. Check the order

Make sure the physician’s order is complete and correct. A complete order consists of the drug’s name, dosage,  frequency, and route of administration. If an order is incomplete or unclear, never assume the information. Check with the ordering physician before proceeding.

2. Check the medication

Look for the expiration date and make sure it isn’t expired. Check the labels and compare with the order. Also, always look at the characteristics of the medication when preparing them.

If a medication that is supposed to be clear looks cloudy, discard the drug and get a fresh one. Drugs that come in single dose preparations should be sealed and not tampered with. Never store excess medications from single doses.

3. See drug interactions

Patients are often given more than one drug. See drug interactions for each medication and confirm with the patient’s chart if there are any contraindications or special precautions to be made. Patient history on previous anaphylactic reactions should also be noted.

4. Compute dosages correctly

Most mistakes come from incorrect computation of drug dosages. Make sure computations are correct by double checking them, if in doubt, ask another colleague or check with the dosing information of the drug. Brush up on your dosing math and conversion skills.

5. Limit conversations

Limit conversations when you are on your way to administering medications. Concentrate on the task at hand, attentiveness is the most important aspect of safety.

6. Rights of medication administration

Know by heart and follow the “Rights” of medication administration religiously.  These principles are paramount to a safe medication administration.

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