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Medication errors are preventable with proper protocol

Patients who are receiving any type of medication are at risk of errors that can harm them. There must be protocols in place that help prevent these from occurring. This is often a difficult task because of the many steps that it takes to get patients medications, especially in a hospital setting.

There are some common ways that these facilities can help to keep patients safe from medication errors. Using more than one method can boost the effectiveness of the strategy. Here are a few common protocols that are used:

  • Comprehensive documentation is important. Everything that has to do with prescribing, filling and administering medication should be put into the patient's record.
  • Repeat the prescription to the person who prescribed it. You should also read the order aloud when you are doing anything with the medications.
  • Use decimal points with a preceding number, even a 0, to help keep the dosage straight. This can help differentiate dosage errors. For example. 0.50mg is much easier to read than .50mg.
  • Medications must be reconciled. When the pharmacy delivers a medication, it should be checked against the prescription. It will be checked again when it is administered.
  • Name alerts can help to prevent name mix ups. Ensuring that the patient is the one for whom it was prescribed is one of the five rights of medication administration. For example, Mr. Herbert shouldn't get medications for Mr. Hebert. The similar names might lead to confusion.
  • The five rights of medication administration must be followed. It must be timed correctly, given via the correct method, have the correct dosage, be the correct medication, and be given to the intended patient.

Source: Miniority Nurse, "10 Strategies for Preventing Medication Errors," accessed March 23, 2018

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