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Medication errors by registered nurses are a big problem

The upcoming February 2017 print version of the Applied Nursing Research journal has a very interesting report about medical errors committed by registered nurses. These nurses are often considered the hallmark employees for patient care. This doesn't mean that they are immune to making errors that can impact patients in a negative manner.

The report noted that cardiovascular drugs were the ones that were most commonly associated with errors made by RNs. Cardiovascular medication errors accounted for nearly 25 percent of errors that were preventable. Fortunately, the majority of these errors didn't result in patient harm, although there were still some that did harm patients.

All told, around 10 percent of all RN medication errors caused patients harm. Around 65 percent of the errors were noted after the patient received the medication, but no harm occurred. Approximately 14 percent of the errors were found before the medication was given to the patient.

The location where the nurse works and the patient is admitted can have an impact on the likelihood of a medication error. Patients on medical-surgical units have the highest risk of medication errors. Intensive care units came in second for risk and intermediate care units were third.

It is crucial that steps are taken at each phase of the medication process to stop errors. Continuing education and double checks might benefit RNs who are administering medications. For the patients who are harmed because of medication errors, all of this will seem a little too little and a little too late. Those patients might choose to seek compensation for the harm they suffered.

Source: Medscape, "RN Med Errors Common, Especially in Medical-Surgical Units, ICUs," Diedtra Henderson, Dec. 28, 2016

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