Making mistakes is part of being a human being. As a nurse, you’ll find that making a mistake is still somewhat normal, but here your mistakes may carry heavier consequences than you may be accustomed to. And in the world of healthcare, there is also the worry of malpractice suits against nurses or physicians that have made a mistake.
One of the most common mistakes made in nursing is that of medication errors. The consequences can be critical and have long-lasting and immediate effects. As such, it is especially important to follow medication guidelines to eliminate the chances of mistakes. To help nurses make the best medication decisions and eliminate errors, the “five rights” provide proper guidance. They are easy to remember, and following them will give you the security you need while giving medication to patients.
- Right Medication
When you are tasked with giving medication to a patient, you need to make absolutely sure that you are providing the correct medication. You should double and triple check the doctor’s orders, making note of both the generic and brand name of the medication. When you go to pull the medication, check that the prescription matches the name you are seeing on the dispensing machine. Giving the wrong medication to the patient can have numerous adverse effects, many of which cannot be predicted due to the patient’s particular medical history. When in doubt, ask for advice or help with making sure the medication on the order and the medication you have retrieved match exactly.
- Right Patient
Once you are sure you have the correct medication, you need to make sure you are giving it to the right patient. You should verify the patient using a couple of different forms of identification. You can use the room number and bed designation as one. You may also want to check the patient’s charts, their armband, and their barcode. A great standby option is to simply ask the patient for their name to compare against the medication order.
- Right Dose
When you have located the correct mediation and the right patient, you need to make sure the dose you are giving them is correct. Again, to do this, you’ll need to simply double-check with the doctor’s order. Check when you go to retrieve the medication and again when you go to administer it. Getting the dosage correct is absolutely vital; an incorrect dosage can have devastating effects and lead to serious problems or even death.
- Right Time
The timing of medication administration needs to be followed exactly according to the physician’s orders. As such, you should pay special attention to the times of day each patient needs their medication. This will help you figure out the order in which you need to deliver medications. If you have a patient that is infamously difficult to deal with, leave them for last. This will ensure that you get the rest of your patients their medications without delay. If the defiant patient is going to delay the timing of their own medication, there is no reason to allow them to delay the administration of medication to other patients as well.
- Right Route
Finally, we come to the last right in the list of ways to prevent errors in medication administration. The route refers to the actual physical method of administering medications. Drugs may be given orally, parenterally, topically, enterally, by inhalation or through injection. Many medications have different versions that can be administered in several different ways depending on the needs and specifications of the patients, so make sure you understand how the doctor wants the medication to be administered along with when and to whom.