Many things can lead to medication errors, but the nature of the conditions in emergency medicine during pre-hospital care makes it difficult to ensure that proper dosing is being used. It is critical for all emergency medical service providers to have protocol in place to help ensure that all medications are dosed properly and that everything is double-checked.
One reason why it is so difficult for EMS providers to ensure that everything is being done properly is that they are under extreme amounts of stress. They are often fatigued and may have to work in conditions that aren't stable or ideal. Still, patients should be able to count on receiving high-quality care even before they reach the hospital.
There are a few common issues that plague EMS technicians that might contribute to the medication errors. These include:
- Incorrect weight estimation
- References that aren't accurate
- Inability to recall doses
- Errors in calculation
- Estimation errors for doses
- Communication difficulties
All EMS providers should have a checks and balances system that can help the people out in the field to ensure that they are providing the correct medications. At a minimum, the drug name, the dosage, the administration method, the administration rate and the rationale for giving the medication should all be verbally confirmed with the other person on the rig.
The fact that these workers are under pressure isn't a good reason to make errors. Patients who suffer harm from any medication error might choose to seek compensation for the damages they have to deal with. This sends a firm message to the EMS provider that slacking off on patient safety isn't acceptable.