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With your full attention and presence of mind, you can reduce the likelihood of making mistakes.
Never stop asking for the patient’s name for each medication you will give even if you do it several times in a shift. For patients with problems stating their names, you can just look at their name band to check if you are dealing with the right patient.
To ensure that you are dealing with the right drug, it will be best to use both the generic and brand name of the medication ordered. Whenever you are not sure with the drug you will administer, don’t hesitate to double check with your drug handbook. If you have time, develop the habit of looking up a drug’s information before giving it to the patient. Sometimes, ordered medications are lost in communication among doctors, nurses and pharmacists. When receiving orders through phone, write down the instructions and repeat everything before hanging up. High alert medication are so potent that a slight variation in dosage given will directly affect the patient’s vital signs. High alert drugs include heparin, dopamine, dobutamine, nicardipine, digoxin and many more. To avoid unnecessary adverse drug reactions, always ask the patient about any known drug allergies before giving new medications. Sometimes, healthcare workers also forget to record the known drug allergies of the patient in their chart.
Sometimes, nurses are more sensitive in overseeing drug incompatibilities in the patient’s treatment regimen. It is not advisable to put drugs into another container but if you must do it, label the new container properly. If you must give the drug through a nasogastric tube, clarify with the doctor first as you should not crush an extended-release tablet. This is practical whenever you can’t read a poorly written medication order or if you think there has been a typographical error in the new order. For example, a nurse is having trouble reading the newly ordered medication for a 14 year old boy with seizures.
If one of your patients receives eardrops and eye drops simultaneously, you can create a simple marker so you don’t confuse using them interchangeably.
To avoid medication errors, always keep the patient’s safety in mind while giving their medications.


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Verbal orders, including telephone orders are frequently misinterpreted and can lead to significant patient harm. The listener will concurrently transcribe the order on a sheet with at least the patient’s name and one other identifying type of information (medical record number, room number, date of birth). Read the transcribed order back to the giver to ensure the listener has properly heard and understood the communication. There are many types of medical errors, and they can occur anywhere in the healthcare system-from hospitals, to nursing homes, to pharmacies. The fragmented nature of our healthcare system has contributed to an epidemic of medication and other medical errors today. This includes the patient's name, age, date of birth, weight, vital signs, allergies, diagnosis, and current lab results.
Breakdowns in communication among physicians, nurses, pharmacists, and others in the healthcare system can lead to medication errors.
High-alert medicines such as heparin can have devastating consequences if not administered properly. Ask for mandatory training sessions about medications that are introduced to your facility. A simple flaw in the administration of medication can put a patient’s life in danger.
You can do this by simply asking the patient’s full name and date of birth to make sure the information given matches your medication card. Some hospitals even use a barcode scanning system where you can just scan the patient’s arm band with a small device to verify their names.
There are lots of drugs with similar brand names like clonidine and klonopin, celebrex and cerebryx and many more. Be careful as well with drug packaging as some medicines come in deceptively similar packaging or canisters. A drug handbook is a wealth of important information about different drugs like adverse reactions, drug incompatibilities, precautions and many more.
Over time, you will memorize important information for different drugs before administration. To avoid miscommunication, there are simple things you can do in carrying out doctor’s orders for new medications. For this reason, it is important to have someone double check your high alert medications before you administer them to your patient.


There are some occasions where patients forget to state their drug allergies upon initial history taking.
For these reasons, it is essential to verify and ask your patients about their known drug allergies when starting a new medication. If you have a smart phone, try to install a drug index app as it will be handy whenever you want to look up for a drug quickly. If you think a newly ordered medication will do more harm to the patient than its intended therapeutic effect, clarify it with the doctor. Relating the patient’s case in carrying out new medication orders is helpful in making clarifications. The written order reads like “prednisone” but considering the case of the patient, the nurse decided to clarify with the doctor if the patient really needs prednisone as part of his maintenance drugs at home.
Considering the patient’s case in carrying out new medication orders saved him from unnecessary adverse drug reactions. Applying a small colored sticker on one side of the container is helpful especially if you have lots of medications to administer in other patients. If you are just new in practicing the nursing profession, asking guidance from your senior nurses is also helpful in preventing medication errors. She is working as a staff nurse in the pediatric ward of a private city hospital for more than two years.
Relaying of a verbal order by a Registered Nurse, Licensed Vocational Nurse, or Physician Assistant who is the direct representative of the prescribing physician will be accepted.
Double check high alert medications with another nurse to prevent accidental overdoses and other medication errors.
Fortunately, you only need one trait to reduce the risk of medication errors at work – attentiveness. It is also more convenient if you will peel the old label from the previous canister and stick it to the new canister. Be careful in crushing or cutting them up as these drugs will produce quick potent effects when taken without the extended-release coating.
This is an easy technique in simplifying safety measures in giving medications to your patients.
Seasoned nurses know more techniques in reducing the risks of such mistakes so ask for their guidance and advice as you start working in your unit.



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