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Medication errors are unfortunately not some of those rare events. The National Patient Safety in the year 2008 revealed that approximately one in ten patients always experience medication harm though most of these mistakes usually are unreported as the staff will never realize that there is an error that has occurred (Lodewijk, Swamy & Andy,2005). Medication error is any error that is realized during prescribing process, dispensing, when preparing, monitoring, administering and giving medicine related advice regardless of whether or not harm has occurred or not. The issue dealing with medication administration in a healthcare setting has been the main focus of research and scrutiny since medication errors do contribute directly to the mortality and morbidity of the patients (Tissot et al, 2003, pp. 264-268; Barker et al, 2002, pp.2314-2316). The desire to offer patients with the most optimum as well as safe care does fuel the academics and practitioners to create some strategies that are meant to reduce likelihood of administrating errors that occur. According to the American Hospital Association, some of the major medication errors are the incomplete information meant for patients, unavailable information on drugs, miscommunication on drug use, lack of correct labeling of drugs and environmental factors for example noise, heat, lighting, interruptions that distract the health practitioners from their tasks (Lodewijk, Swamy & Andy,2005, pp. 111). This paper seeks to evaluate an article on medical error in order to get more limelight on the same.
Elen et al (2001, pp. 496-504), in their article ‘factors contributing to medication errors: a literature review’, gives a deep analysis on nursing and some of the medication errors that occurs as well as the causes of these errors. They start by acknowledging the fact that drug administration is one of the most important and sensitive role of the nurse. They assert that medication errors are a global problem and there ought to be a multidisciplinary approach to reduce the errors in the medical field. Drug administration is one of the roles of a clinical nurse though pharmacists and doctors are also involved. All the registered nurses are fully accountable for their practice which comprise of preparing, administering medications, checking, updating their knowledge on medications, monitoring the treatment effectiveness, reporting some of the reactions that are disturbing or adverse and teaching their patients in drugs (Elen et al, 2001, pp. 1365-2702).
According to the authors, medication error is any dose of medication which is different from the order of the physician and written in the chart belonging to the patient of from the procedures and hospital policy. Some of the errors are the error of omission, wrong rating error, taking of unauthorized drugs, wrong dosage, wrong dose preparation and incorrect technique of administrating the drugs. The authors cite Wolf (1989, pp. 8) who asserts that medication errors are mistakes that are usually associated with the IV solutions and drugs which are made during prescription, dispensing, transcription, preparation as well as distribution.
Ellen et al asserts that mathematical proficiency is a major prerequisite in the performance of most functions nursing for example intravenous regulation, medication calculation as well as the intake and the output calculation. One of the factors that lead to medication errors is poor skills in mathematics among nurses. Most of the student nurses do not have efficient mathematical capability that is required to function as real registered nurses. In a study done it showed that approximately 9% and 38% of students in the nursing field could not pass the mathematical proficiency exams. Also the study showed that 110 of the registered nurses among them 81% could not calculate the medication doses. Most nurses have a problem with the conceptual, mathematical, as well as the measurement abilities thus leading to medical errors during practice. The other factor is lack of knowledge that accounted for around 29% of all the 334 errors that had occurred in a period of six months (Elen et al, 2001, pp. 1365-2702). Other factors were length of the shifts. The nurses who had numerous shifts were more likely to make errors. The other is workload which can lead to medical error as shortages of the nursing personnel can have adverse effects. Others are interruptions and distractions, quality of the written prescriptions by the doctors and finally, the nurses who are new in a medical setting are likely to err because of the new environments though they are likely to report the errors as compared to those who are more experienced.
Some of the preventative measures that ought to be used in order to decrease such incidences are testing nurses’ knowledge on medications during the orientation periods as well as thorough orientation of the mathematical capabilities. Ellen et al affirms that nurses should be aware of the right actions to take, side effects as well as a correct dosage of all the drugs they administer. Some of the recommendations that have been articulated in the article are increasing more knowledge on the medications through the nurses updating their intellect on drugs to curb the issue of medical errors.
The authors acknowledged the fact that medication errors are a major problem that is associated with the nursing practice. Some of the factors they identified are managerial problems, personnel, mathematical aptitude of the nurses, workload, staffing levels, nursing care systems and others. There is need for the educators to offer in service education that is related to medicine. There is however need for more action on this subject to avoid risk related cases.