How to prevent medication errors for better services

Jan 14
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Medication errors and drug-related occurrences can have far reaching implications on both the patients and the healthcare organisations. As a healthcare service provider, you are not ready for prolonged hospitalisation, unexpected costs to unnecessary discomfort and sometimes disability or increased mortality; which can otherwise be avoided.

The NSQHS’ Standard 4-Medication Safety – provides clinical leaders and senior managers of health service organisations with guidelines for the implementation of systems that can help reduce the occurrence of medication incidents, while at the same time improving safety and quality of medicine use.  Here are 3 important strategies you need to ensure your hospital meets the (NSQHS) Medication Safety standards

Based on analysis of previous medication errors, we propose two approaches that you can adopt to address and reduce medication errors and accidents.

  1. Identify any existing problems that can individually result in deficiencies that often culminate in error
  2. Analyse your system for any faults in design

Problems with both individual and systems design have been attributed to most accidents.

Although the frequency and severity of medication errors do not necessary permeate across the entire population within the organisation, it still has a role to play in the general service delivery.

Therefore, to minimise medication related incidences and achieve better levels of clinical care and safety, we suggest that you focus on factors that lead to medication errors. They include:

  • Patient information
  • Drug information
  • Effective communication
  • Staff education and competency

Patient Information Best practices in patient information can involve accurate demographic information as required for medication including name, age, birth date, weight, allergies, disease diagnosis, current lab results and vital signs. Medication errors can be reduced through bar-code scanning of the patient’s armband to satisfactorily confirm the identity prior to administration of medicines.

Drug Information All caregivers in the system should be able to easily access the current and accurate drug information.  Such information can be readily acquired from protocols, text references, custom computerised drug information systems, patient profiles and administration records.

Effective communication Miscommunication among physicians, pharmacists, and nurses is attributed to many of the recorded medication errors. In limiting medication errors, focus should be on eliminating communication barriers, as very appropriate verification of drug information. As a healthcare organisation, adopting the “SBAR” method (situation, background, assessment, and recommendations) can enhance communication among the team members.

Staff education and competency Nursing staff spend most of their time with patients, and educating them on the NSQHS safety requirements among other competencies can significantly reduce the medication error threshold. For instance, staff should be regularly updated on both internal and external medication, considering that chances of an error that occurred in another facility occurring are high, thus staff need to be sensitised.

Do you agree with these tips to prevent medication errors? What’s worked for you in your hospital?

photo credit: Amanda M Hatfield via photopin cc

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Submitted by Criterion Conferences

Criterion Conferences

Based in Sydney, we are an independent research organisation, producing over 90 conferences a year across a variety of industries. Our focus is on providing innovative, value adding content via our conferences and this blog is an extension of that principle.

One thought on “How to prevent medication errors for better services

  1. How hard could it be to manage medication and get it right? The industry must have some very under qualified workers not paying attention to the job at hand.

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