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How nurses can avoid medication errors

The most common mistakes made by new nurses involve medication. These mistakes can be made in numerous ways that are all dangerous, from giving out the wrong medication to giving someone the wrong dosage of the right medication.

These, of course, are avoidable issues. Patients expect nurses not to be negligent and not to make mistakes. However, nurses are human, so they do. The following are a few things they can do to avoid these errors:

1. Double-checking weight and height information.

2. Asking the patient about allergies, even if it's in the person's file, before giving out the medication.

3. Double-checking patient-specific identifiers to make sure the right medicine is given to the right person.

4. Before giving out any medication, looking back over the conditions and the diagnosis.

5. Checking the full list of drugs and medications the person is taking and updating that list whenever necessary.

Essentially, nurses just need to be extra vigilant. They need to go over things twice, even when they believe they're making the right decision. It's better to read a person's file twice and then verify that information with the person before giving out medication, even if that "wastes" time, than to assume the details are correct and only find out later that it was another person with the same name or that the file was incorrect.

When nurses are negligent instead of vigilant, mistakes can have serious ramifications, causing injury and even death. Those who are hurt and the families of those who pass away may want to look into their rights to compensation.

Source: Nurse Journal, "The 5 Most Common Mistakes Made By New Nurses," accessed Jan. 31, 2017

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