Medication Errors: Enhancing Quality and Safety

Patient safety is considered the basis of high-quality care. Patient safety approaches lower the risk of adversarial occasions linked to medical care experience across a variety of conditions and diagnoses. Over the years, medication errors have presented a serious patient safety threat. Patients have suffered injuries and died due to medication errors. This paper will focus on a quality improvement initiative that aims at reducing medication errors to enhance quality and safety.

Quality Improvement Initiative

A successful quality improvement initiative includes four major components: the issue, aim, goal and measures. The quality improvement initiative begins with an in-depth understanding of the issue, then determining the appropriate goal for the challenge and ways through which h the goals will be achieved. The measures are used to determine whether the initiatives lead to an improvement. The quality improvement initiative can only be effective if it positively impacts the outcomes.

Factors that Lead to Medication Errors

Medicine administration has often been considered a basic nursing responsibility. Medication errors may occur between the medical prescriptions to monitoring the patient even after administration. The task demands the complex interaction of large numbers of specific actions and decisions. The complex medicine administration process increases the chances of medication administration errors. Increased workloads, fatigue, pharmacological knowledge gaps, distractions, and drug miscalculations have greatly lead to medication errors (Gorgich, Barfroshan, Ghoreishi, and Yaghoobi, 2016). Medication errors are also linked with wrong drug selection, illegible handwriting, poor communication of the drug orders, and confusion over drugs with similar names or packaging. For instance, incorrect doses such as under-dose, extra dose, and overdose happen due to different or inappropriate medication which may lead to significant mortality and morbidity.

Medication errors can result from human error or systemic issues which cause huge physical injury and possible death to patients. Medication errors can also lead to severe psychological, financial, and emotional stress to the nurses (Di Simone et al., 2018). Healthcare providers have experienced profound psychological impacts such as guilt, anger, depression, and inadequacy due to perceived or real medical errors. Fears of punishment, legal actions, and feelings of failure have led to the loss of clinical confidence among nurses. Disciplinary actions have contributed to the nurses and other health professionals failing to report medical errors or document the error (Tariq, Vashisht, and Scherbak, 2020). Therefore, these actions have contributed to an evolving cycle of medical errors that have affected the healthcare system.

Evidence-based practice and Best Practice Solutions

The front-line nurses are spending much of their time in the administration of medications. Safe and accurate medication administration depends on the nurses’ decision-making, pharmacologic knowledge, and critical thinking skills. Medication errors have been linked to costly and serious consequences such as extra medical interventions, patients’ length of stay, serious harm, and even death. Concerning a study carried out by John Hopkins University, medical errors have been the third leading cause of death in the United States (Makary and Daniel, 2016). The findings of the study indicated that medication error is a traumatic experience that challenges confidence and self-esteem. The data analysis revealed several themes linked to medication error experiences. For instance, medication errors have made nurses regretful, guilty, and fearful of offering safe care. Gorgich, Barfroshan, Ghoreishi, and Yaghoobi (2016) explored the reasons for medication errors as well as the strategies to prevent medical errors through a cross-sectional study that was carried out on 327 nurses of Khatam-al-anbia hospital and 62 intern nursing students from the school of Zahedan, Iran. The study findings indicate that the major causes of medication errors in nursing include high workload, tiredness, and fatigue due to long working hours.

The quality improvement initiatives will play an essential role in helping reduce medication errors. Considerably, the healthcare system is evolving due to technological advancement while making patient safety a priority. The implementation of electronic medication records, barcode scanning, and automated medication dispensing can help in reducing medication errors (Litman, Smith, and Mainland, 2018). These interventions offer a safe and accurate medication administration process which will lower the rates of readmission, death, and costs associated with medication errors. According to Gorgich, Barfroshan, Ghoreishi, and Yaghoobi (2016) education and familiarity of nurses with impressive processes such as electronic medicine cards for patients can be essential in reducing medical errors. Retraining offers a systematic approach which is also effective in improving pharmacological knowledge which improves the situation.

Role of Nurses in Addressing the Issue

Nurses rely on their clinical judgment to offer quality care and contribute to positive patient outcomes. Nursing education plays an essential role in building pharmacological knowledge and creating awareness of various aspects that contribute to the incident of medication errors. Nurses can effectively identify the cause of medication errors and offer solutions through their technical skills, scientific ability, and practices. For instance, nurses can focus on double verification which can lower medication errors (Chu, 2016). Nurses should also participate in multidisciplinary teams formed to evaluate medication errors. Effective communication with the patient and physicians allows nurses to access medical histories which lowers the chances of medical errors. Therefore, nurses can reduce medical errors by ensuring safe and accurate medication administration.

Conclusion

Medication errors have contributed to readmissions, length of hospital stays, high financial costs, and death. Quality improvement initiatives are the most effective systematic activities that can address the medication error issues in healthcare settings to enhance quality and safety. There is a need for safe and accurate medication administration to reach the patient safety goal within healthcare settings. Implementing different approaches such as training, electronic health records, and medicine cards will enable the nurses to offer high-quality care thus boosting safe and quality care.

 

 

References

Chu, R. Z. (2016). Simple steps to reduce medication errors. Nursing202046(8), 63-65.

Di Simone, E., Giannetta, N., Auddino, F., Cicotto, A., Grilli, D., & Di Muzio, M. (2018). Medication errors in the emergency department: knowledge, attitude, behavior, and training needs of nurses. Indian journal of critical care medicine: peer-reviewed, official publication of Indian Society of Critical Care Medicine22(5), 346.

Gorgich, E. A. C., Barfroshan, S., Ghoreishi, G., & Yaghoobi, M. (2016). Investigating the causes of medication errors and strategies to prevention of them from nurses and nursing student viewpoint. Global journal of health science8(8), 220.

Litman, R. S., Smith, V. I., & Mainland, P. (2018). New solutions to reduce wrong route medication errors. Pediatric Anesthesia28(1), 8-12.

Makary, M. A., & Daniel, M. (2016). Medical error—the third leading cause of death in the US. Bmj353.

Tariq, R. A., Vashisht, R., & Scherbak, Y. (2020). Medication errors. StatPearls [Internet].’

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