It is essential for nurses working in direct care settings to follow medication safety tips, guidelines, and procedures. Medication mix-ups can happen but oftentimes have disastrous results. There are many dangers and hazards associated with errors, which can impact the life and wellness of the patients. A patient may face an extended hospital stay, further implications, or unwanted side effects. It is a nurse’s job to lessen the risks and prevent improper distribution from happening. Check out our top five medication safety tips to stay on track and put your patients on a safe and healthy path to wellness.
Best Medication Safety Tips
Tip #1 – Check for Basic Correctness:
Although medication mix-ups are very serious, don’t fall victim to intimidation. This can cause stress, anxiety, and worry that may cause you to miss something important. Remember to always start with the basics. First, make sure your medication order is complete. Use the 5 R’s, also known as the “Five Rights” to verify. Confirm it is the right prescription for the right patient in the correct dosage via the right route and timed correctly. Also, check the patient’s medical record for any allergies.
Tip #2 – Double Check for Precision’s Sake:
One of the most helpful attributes for nursing is being detail-oriented. As you verify that all of the drug information is correct, we recommend double and triple-checking your work. Have a physician or another nurse read the transcription back to you. Here are some tips and tricks: Place a zero in front of every decimal point so you never mix up .20 mg with 20 mg. Be precise, and pay extra attention to decimal points and abbreviations.
Tip #3 – Keep Everything Organized:
Oftentimes, organized individuals feel more confident in their tasks. Here are some of the best tips for staying organized during your workflow:
- Document everything.
- Prepare medications for only one patient at a time.
- Streamline your process so you can get into a good routine.
- Store look-a-like drugs far away from each other. Separate them in different bins or cabinets.
- Store all medications properly at correct temperatures.
Tip #4 – Familiarize Yourself with Resources
Another tip is to know where everything is that you need before you even begin. Keep a drug guide available to you at all times, whether printed or on a mobile device. Check that you have documents and resources with you before you begin preparing or administering anything. Take as much time as you need to read. Minimize interruptions and distractions while reading. Know where antidotes or reversal agents are stored, just in case. It’s also important to familiarize yourself with look-alike drug names. These medication safety tips ensure you are taking precautions to avoid errors.
Tip #5 – Educate Your Patients
As a nurse, it is important to stay vigilant. Remember, your patients make errors too, and it is important to educate them. Vigilance is especially important during the cold and flu season, as patients often turn to several different OTC medications. These medications work to ease their pains, headaches, and other symptoms, but they are not meant to be consumed all at once. One easy way to prevent improper dosing is to instruct patients to read each drug label and follow it carefully. Also, be aware of common mistakes patients make, and notify them before they happen. For example, patients may chew pills when they are not supposed to, skip doses, or take too many doses. Be sure patients do not mistake eye drops for ear drops, or vice versa. Educate patients about active ingredients, ask the right questions, and recommend the right products for their needs.
Though it can be a daunting task, administering medication to patients is rewarding when done properly. Have you had any slip-ups in the past, and what helped you get back on track? Share any additional medication safety tips with us in our comments!