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Interruptions may lead to medication errors

Based on the results of multiple studies, researchers have found that nurses in New Mexico and elsewhere could benefit from an automatic dispensing cabinet to help cut down on patient medication errors. Nurses are often distracted while preparing medication, and this distraction can lead to errors. With an automatic dispensing cabinet, a nurse's steps up to the point of interruption are saved, and this prevents nurses from having to mentally retrace their steps each time they return to a task.

Without an automatic dispensing cabinet, a nurse might start the process only to be interrupted with a question from a colleague. On returning to the task, the nurse might be interrupted a second time because a colleague needs emergency medication. The final step of medication is called the "last 50 feet" and refers to getting to a patient's room. Multiple interruptions may happen at this point as well along with room for more errors.

According to research, the medication process is particularly vulnerable to interruptions with an average of one every two minutes. Each of these interruptions represents a heightened potential for error such as the wrong medication or the wrong dose. Nurses are supposed to observe the five rights. These are the right drug, patient, route, dose and time. However, this can be disrupted with too much distraction.

Whether it is the wrong medication or the wrong dose, the effect of a medication error on a patient may be devastating. For example, patients might receive a medication that they are allergic to or simply one that is wrong for their condition. People who have been affected in such a manner might want to have legal assistance in seeking compensation for their losses.

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