Safe medication administration involves giving the patients the prescribed medication to diagnose, treat or prevent a medical condition (Donnelel & Gopi, 2009). Therefore, to administer medications rationally, the nurses should strictly follow the six medication administration rights which are the right patients, the right time, the right dosage, the right route, the right drug, and the right documentation (Benner, Tanner, & Whitely, 2009 ). On the other hand, ignorance of the medication rights leads to medication errors that have adverse effects on the patients (Benner, Tanner, & Whitely, 2009). As a result, the nurses should take the responsibility of preventing medication errors.
The right drug is one of the medication administration rights and it involves the administration of the correct medication therefore the nurses should compare the medication administration records with both the pharmacy labels and the physician prescriptions (Donnelel & Gopi, 2009). Additionally, the nurses should only administer the medications that they have prepared and they should be present when the patients are taking the prescribed medications (Benner, Tanner, & Whitely, 2009). On the other hand, the right patient concerns administration of the drugs to the correct patient and the nurses achieve this by asking the patients their names and confirming with the medication orders or the patient’s identification bracelets (Benner, Tanner, & Whitely, 2009 ). Furthermore, the right time involves the administration of medication at the correct time therefore; the nurses should ensure that the frequency of drugs administration on the medication administration records matches the pharmacy labels, the prescriptions and the current time (Donnelel & Gopi, 2009). Additionally, the right dosage entails the correct amount in terms of the strength of the drug and as a result, the role of the nurses is to triple check any dosages calculations and have them verified by other health care providers (Donnelel & Gopi, 2009). Moreover, the right route requires that the administrators check the prescribed routes on the physician prescriptions and match them with the labeling of the drug because this ensures that the patients receive the drugs via the correct routes (Donnelel & Gopi, 2009). Finally, the right documentation involves recording the patients’ status before medication administration as well as the medications given, the time is given, the dosage, and the routes of administration (Donnelel & Gopi, 2009). Besides, the patients’ responses to medications are through follow-ups and the findings documented (Benner, Tanner, & Whitely, 2009).
Common medication errors that usually occur include wrong dosages, wrong time, and wrong medications (Donnelel & Gopi, 2009). The wrong dosages involve both the unclear doses and overdoses; wrong time involves the wrong frequency while the wrong medications are when patients receive different medications from the prescribed ones (Ricel, 2008). For instance, a patient can receive 250mg of Amoxil capsule orally instead of 500mg of Amoxil capsule orally because both capsules are available (Ricel, 2008). It is therefore the responsibility of the nurses to read the medication labels before administration of the drugs (Benner, Tanner, & Whitely, 2009 ). This is because drug under-dose delays the healing process and puts the patient at risk of acquiring nosocomial infections (Donnelel & Gopi, 2009). On the other hand, wrong timing is a common medication error that usually occurs because the nurses want to save time by administering all the medications at the same time regardless of their frequencies (Benner, Tanner, & Whitely, 2009 ). For instance, instead of administering a medication like crystalline penicillin after every six hours, the nurses give it in the morning at 7 am, at midday, in the evening at 6 pm and at nine pm (Benner, Tanner, & Whitely, 2009). This is irrational drug use and it exacerbates the side effects of the drugs like nausea and vomiting (Donnelel & Gopi, 2009). Finally, wrong medication is an error that occurs when two or more drugs have names that are almost alike (Donnelel & Gopi, 2009). For example, nurses can administer chlorpheniramine tablets instead of chloramphenicol capsules and as a result, the patients’ condition will continue to deteriorate (Donnelel & Gopi, 2009).
Utilization of the six rights of medication administration is not only significant to the patients but also to the nurses (Benner, Tanner, & Whitely, 2009). To begin with, it alleviates the risk of adverse effects of drugs that usually occur when a patient receives the wrong medication (Benner, Tanner, & Whitely, 2009). For instance, if an asthmatic patient receives diazepam, he will die because diazepam depresses the respiratory system (Donnelel & Gopi, 2009). Moreover, the six medication rights make the patients’ management cost-effective because medication errors are costly as they increase the patients’ stay in the hospital and the resources consumed (Ricel, 2008). On the other hand, proper administration of medication assuages the psychological trauma that nurses usually encounter after medication errors (Donnelel & Gopi, 2009). For example; a nurse may become guilty and fearful about losing his clinical confidence after a medication error (Ricel,2008). Moreover, medication errors can cause post-trauma distress disorder to the nurses because of the feeling that they caused the patients’ death (Ricel, 2008). For example, if a nurse administers an excess dose of morphine and the patient dies, the nurse may be haunted whenever he comes across the morphine drug (Benner, Tanner, & Whitely, 2009 ).
Strategies for avoiding medication errors are towards controlling the system factors and the process factors (Benner, Tanner, & Whitely, 2009). The system factors include nurses’ staffing and workloads while the process factors include distracters and education (Benner, Tanner, & Whitely, 2009). To begin with, staffing of nurses needs to be adequate so that the ratio of patients to nurses is appropriate according to the management style (Ricel, 2008). For instance, if the ratio of nurses to patients is one is to one, the patients will receive comprehensive management and the possibility of medication error will cease (Ricel, 2008). Additionally, too much workload facilitates medication error because the nurses will administer medications hastily to reduce the work volume and as a result, the errors of the wrong patients and the wrong medication are likely to occur (Benner, Tanner, & Whitely, 2009). Therefore, emphasis should be on the division of labor so that the nurses monitor the patients closely (Donnelel & Gopi, 2009). Distracters have an imperative impact on medication safety therefore; the nurses should avoid destructors like music during the administration of medication so that drug administration receives maximum attention (Ricel, 2008). Finally, health care providers need to be empowered with knowledge about the six rights of medication administration and the consequences of medication errors (Benner, Tanner, & Whitely, 2009). This empowerment is through continuous education and research works (Ricel, 2008). Additionally, the nurses can alleviate medication errors through strict observation of the six rights of medication administration (Benner, Tanner, & Whitely, 2009).
In conclusion, nurses can achieve safe medication practice through vigilant observation of the six rights of medication administration. This is important because it will alleviate the impact of medication errors on both the patients and the nurses.
Benner, P., Tanner, C., & Whitely, R. (2009). Expertise in Nursing Practice: Caring, Clinical Judgement and Ethics. New York: Fransis and Taylor Publishing Company.
Donnelel, J., & Gopi, A. (2009). Drug Injury: Liability, Analysis and Prevention. Australia: Springer Publishing Company.
Ricel, J. (2008). Medication and Mathematics for the Nurses. New Delhi: New Age International Publisher.