Medication errors. You’ve made them. I’ve made them. I think we would agree that we hate them. No matter how many times we tell ourselves we will never make a mistake again, we can fall into some bad habits. Here’s how to avoid three common traps that contribute to making medication errors.
1. Avoid being in too much of a rush
Most of the errors I’ve made stemmed from being in too much of a hurry. I skipped double checking the medication or verifying the patient’s name. So no matter how hurried you are, slow down. Take a few extra seconds to double check you have the right drug, the right dosage, the right route, the right time and the right patient.
2. Avoid getting too comfortable
The computer is acting up. You can’t get on or the screens are so slow. You know what medications this patient gets. No one talked about any order changes in report. You decide to give the meds and sign for them later. When you finally get on your computer, you see you gave a medication that was discontinued. Oops. Never take a short cut like this. It is a dangerous practice.
3. Avoid blindly following others
As you punch pills out of the pill pack, you see the initials of other nurses who have given this medication before. With so many others giving this med, you are sure it must be the right drug and dosage. You follow their lead and skim over the directions. Later, you discover that you and the other nurses have made an error. The fact that other nurses made a mistake before you does not excuse your error. Don’t assume that what others have already done is correct. You have a responsibility to give the right medication and right dosage every time regardless of what other nurses do.
Avoiding these three common medication error traps will help you reduce the number of errors you make. Wouldn’t that be great for you and your patients?