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Know the 5 rights that can reduce medication errors

The medical team members who administer medications must ensure that they are giving the right medications to the right patients using the right method at the right time and in the right dose. Those five points are known as the "five rights" of medication administration. When those five points are verified for each mediation administration, the risk of medication errors declines significantly.

Of course, these five rights aren't comprehensive. Medical personnel might need to use other methods to ensure that patients get the proper medications. Some medical facilities might add more steps, questions or assurances to the process. Examples include ensuring the medication is given for the right reason, in the right combination with other medications or through the right intravenous line or intramuscular location.

When medication errors do occur, the patient is the one who has to deal with the harm. This might be a worsening of the original condition, side effects from the incorrect medication or interactions if the medication error introduced an unacceptable combination to the patient. In all of these cases, the patient might suffer physically, emotionally, mentally and financially.

Holding each person involved in the medication administration process accountable for their part in the process can help to prevent errors. This can help to reduce the incidence of errors that patients have to deal with. When a patient is harmed by medication, the patient might choose to seek compensation for the effects of the error. This can help the patient to recoup the money they lost because of the issues caused by getting incorrect medications.

Source: Institute for Healthcare Improvement, "The Five Rights of Medication Administration," Frank Federico, RPh, accessed March 30, 2017

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