Medication Errors and Patient Safety - Essay Example

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An essay "Medication Errors and Patient Safety" claims that medication errors will seemingly be a cost to the hospital in one way or the other. In this article, a medication error is comprehensively analyzed as a sentinel event that results from medical error…
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Medication Errors and Patient Safety
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Medication Errors and Patient Safety
Apparently, sentinel events are perceived to have high likelihood of occurring in the medical practice thereby defining a new era of medical errors. In reference to regular reports, medical errors continue to dominate in the medical practice. The occurrence rate of these errors apparently varies from one healthcare facility to the other. Whether or not these occurrences will eventually cause harm will depend on various factors. Moreover, these errors will seemingly be a cost to the hospital in one way or the other. In this article, medication error is comprehensively analyzed as a sentinel event that results from medical error.
Medication error
Medication error is a very common category of medical errors that occur in three critical points during patient care: when ordered by authorized medical professional, through administration by a nurse and through pharmacist dispensation. According to Ferner and Aronson (2006), medication error is perceived to be an event that is likely to result in inappropriate use of medication by a patient while under the coordination of a physician. As Ferner and Aronson understand, mediation errors are also likely to be caused by health care products, professional practice and procedures including prescription: product labeling, order communication, nomenclature and packaging, monitoring, administration and dispensing.
Basically, various medical errors are perceived to be related to wrong medication administration, wrong dosage while administering medication, or administration of correct medication during the wrong time. Moreover, wrong medication prescription is attributed to various factors. These are inclusive of duplicate therapy, drug interactions, improper indication, and failure to recognize complications. According to Han (2006), wrong dosage is attributed to various factors. These factors are; decimal point misplacement, inaccurate calculations, incorrect measure units, doses miscopying, and failure to adjust to the changed psychological status of a patient such as dehydration vital signs and renal function impairment.
Contributing factors
Prescription errors
Prescribing errors involve selection of incorrect drugs for a patient. Such errors are inclusive of quantity, dose, indication, or prescription of drugs that are contradicted. Some contributing factors occur as a result of lack of knowledge on the drugs prescribed, the dose recommended and patient details. Other contributing factors include unreadable handwriting, inaccurate medication history, confusing the name of a drug and inappropriately using the decimal points. Other factors are includes utilizing abbreviations and verbal orders (Han, 2006).
Dispensing errors
Occurrence of dispensing errors is highly likely when a patient is being administered with medicine. As Han (2006) understands, this occurrence may be triggered by the prescription receipt in the pharmacy. The occurrence rate of dispensing errors is perceived to be 24 percent. From a different perspective, Han maintains that this event be triggered by buying the wrong drugs. In most instances, this occurs with drugs containing similar name or with a similar look. Such incidences have resulted in campaigns that have targeted changing some of these drugs. In the United States, there has been a campaign by Food and Drug Administration to have the Losec changed due to close resemblance with Lasix. This campaign has emerged because Loxec has resulted in numerous fatalities due to confusion. Another error in dispensation is perceived to occur when wrong patient, wrong drug or wrong dose and utilization of computerized labeling have resulted in typing or transportation error.
Nurse role in prevention of medication error
Han (2006) observes that a healthcare provider with the responsibility of administering medication is exposed to the final opportunity of avoiding a medication error. Mostly in the inpatient setting, nurses are entitled with the responsibility of medical error prevention. While in nursing school, nurses are taught the approach of reviewing the five “rights” before any medication can be administered. The in addition, McBride-Henry and Fourer (2006) observe that nurses are guided to ensure that clarification is obtained in case of an illegible, incomplete or questionable order. For instance in a Louisiana case proceeding, a nurse was held accountable for administration of medication ordered by the physician, without considering that the dose was in excess. As a result of the patient administration with this drug, he eventually died.
Continuous safe and quality practice
As a medical professional, the main responsibility should involve identification of the factors contributing to medication error. This information should then be utilized in ensuring that such medical occurrences are reduced. Taking a multi-disciplinary approach will ensure that the medication errors are solved. However, creating a safety culture will not simply imply eradication of the blame culture. In addition, it will involve ensuring that the entire way of thinking about medical cycle is changed. Moreover, reporting on medical failure is likely to be rewarding. As Han (2006) understands, this is an important step in implementation of an approach through which the occurrence of medication errors may be prevented. It is hence possible to make medication safe through ensuring that they are resistant to error and through addition of significant checks and controls.

Ferner, R., and Aronson, J. (2006). Clarification of terminology in medication errors: definitions and classification. 29 (11): 1011–22.
Han, W. (2006). Are medical students adequately trained to prescribe at the point of graduation? Views of first year foundation doctors. Scott Med Journal, 51 (4): 27–32.
McBride-Henry, K., and Fourer, M. (2006). Medication Administration Errors: Understanding the Issues. Australian Journal of Advanced Nursing. 23 (3): 33-41. Read More
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