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Preventing medication errors by nurses

North Carolina nurses can take steps to ensure that they do not make medication errors. One of those is observing the so-called "five rights". A nurse administering medication should make sure it is the right medicine, the right person, the right dosage, the right method of administration and that the timing is right.

It is important that when a patient is transferred between units or institutions, these five rights are reviewed. Reconciliation forms are available to ensure this is done correctly. Orders should be read out loud by a doctor or another nurse to double check that they are transcribed correctly. A name alert for patients with similar-sounding names can also help prevent errors.

Another way to avoid mistakes is by putting a zero in front of decimals. This prevents the confusion of measurements like 25 mg with .25 mg. Documentation including labeling medicine and noting when it is administered is critical. Nurses should make a point of reading the label and noting the expiration date. Medicine should also be stored correctly based on temperature and any other factors.

Nurses should be familiar with the policies and guidelines of their institution. They should also have a drug guide handy to check for interactions and other information.

Unfortunately, not all medical professionals are as diligent as they should be in administering medication, and the results can be devastating. A person who has had the wrong medication administered may suffer from a relapse or other serious consequences. Medication errors may not just be the wrong medication but might be medication administered to a patient who is allergic, anesthesia errors or a medication that has a dangerous interaction with another drug the patient is taking. The patient in cases like these may want to talk to an attorney about filing a lawsuit against the medical professionals and the medical facility responsible for the error.

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Daniel Pleasant Holoman LLP

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