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Personal Injury Law Blog

How can nurses avoid medication errors?

If you or one of your immediate family members has spent time in a hospital under the care of a licensed medical team, administration of medication may have been part of the protocol. Whether you, your child or your parent underwent surgery or were being treated for an illness, you can expect the nurses who administer medication to adhere to South Carolina laws and accepted safety standards.

There is a rule of thumb known as the five Rs that helps nurses avoid medication mistakes. Sadly, substandard medical care has caused thousands of patients to suffer injuries, sometimes so severe that their lives were at risk or their injuries proved fatal. Quality care makes it easy for nurses to avoid such errors.

Are you the right patient who is scheduled to receive a specific medication?

The first R in the five-R-routine to help nurses avoid medication errors is to make sure that you are the correct patient who is supposed to receive the medication in question. Consider, for instance, if your name happens to be almost identical to another patient in the same hospital. Looking at your wrist band or records and obtaining verbal confirmation of your name and birth date helps nurses avoid potentially dangerous errors.

Is it the right medication?

It’s not enough to confirm that you are the correct patient. Medical staff should also make sure the medication you’re about to receive is the correct drug that a doctor has prescribed for you. It’s always best to speak up and ask questions if you’re unsure whether the medication a nurse is about to give you is the correct drug.

There is a right time to give medication

The efficacy of certain types of medication, such as antibiotics, depends on careful timing of doses. It’s also possible to cause an overdose of certain drugs, such as morphine or other controlled substances, if two doses are given too close together. Every time a nurse administers medication, she logs the time of the dose in your records, which is then checked by the next person who administers the drug.

The right dosage is an important safety factor

If a nurse is careless and gives you the wrong dose of a medication, it could cause you to suffer illness or, in some cases, death. This is why one of the five Rs of medication safety is always to check and double check that the proper dosage is about to be administered to a patient.

A nurse should make sure she is using the right route

Medication can be administered in several ways, such as through an IV or injection, by swallowing a pill or liquid, or topically by applying something to the skin. Every nurse who comes on duty while you’re receiving care in a hospital is supposed to make sure that he or she is administering a medication to you by the route your physician has ordered.

If a medication error causes you or your loved to suffer injury

You’re not responsible for making sure you are receiving the right medication by the right dose at the right time. However, your medical team is obligated to make sure errors do not occur.

Many people who have survived medication errors due to nursing negligence have gone on to file medical malpractice claims in civil court to seek restitution for damages.