Quality improvement initiatives are being utilized may almost all health organizations and health systems to guarantee patient safety and quality care. Patient safety is critical when providing health care services to the patients and remains the top priority for the interdisciplinary team. Medication errors are the most common and recurring concern affecting healthcare, which is attributed to increased patient harm and mortality (Alotaibi & Federico, 2017). Medication errors are preventable occurrences that can result in patient damage or mortality. Many elements contribute to medication errors. The study reveals that medication errors can occur due to lack of clear communication, disturbances or interference during medication retrieval as well as administration, missing patient information, poor labeling, poor medication reconciliation, and lack of knowledge, among others.
Factors that lead to patient safety risks
Medication errors can occur anytime and anyplace. Most cases of medication errors occur during the period of prescription and monitoring of drugs administered to the patients. Resolving the issue of medication error is not a single responsibility of healthcare professionals but a collective responsibility involving an interdisciplinary collaborative team. The use of evidence-based practices helps create awareness of medication errors among healthcare professionals. Medication errors can happen in manufacturing companies, hospitals, pharmacies, or even at home. Kids are the common victims of medication errors at home when patients become negligent in drug storage. Children are at high risk because they require many different drug doses than adults.
It is crucial to strictly adhere to the five rights of medication administration which help prevent this health care issue. The five rights include ensuring the right drug is administered to the patients, administering medication to the right patient, providing the right dosage to the patient, administering medication at the right time, and finally administering medicines using the right route. Medication errors occur when health care professionals overlook the five rights of medication by using other shortcuts. Other reasons attributing to negligence or overlooking of five rights of medication administration include; increased workloads, drug miscalculation, increased fatigue, and inadequate pharmacologic knowledge, among other distractions. Nurses burdened with more work or responsibilities can cause the medication process to be risky by having limited time to dedicate to the stipulated rights of medication administration. The understaffing of the healthcare system can negatively influence the performance of nurses, increasing fatigue that results in limited or uninformed decisions and miscalculations.
High-quality care is inclined to evidence-based research, which involves the best practice solutions to improve patient safety. Involving patients together with their families is critical in achieving quality care as well as preventing adverse events from taking place. In order to achieve quality care, patient-centered care is essential. Proper communication between all staff and stakeholders should be adopted to ensure medication administration safety. Providing patients and caregivers with adequate education on how to take their medicines at home and reach out to their healthcare providers when they are unsure how to administer it can help achieve quality care (Coles et al., 2017). Healthcare providers should actively engage patients by communicating information verbally and in bold writing when prescribing medicine to their patients and by taking additional time to ensure they understand instructions clearly according to their level of literacy.
Other best practices to enhance patient safety by focusing on medication administration include; double checking on medication and its procedure, Using name alerts, and ensuring planning medication administration to avoid any possible disruption (Robertson & Long, 2018). Nurses and other healthcare professionals need to be vigilant enough when preparing medication, strictly follow agency policy, especially for patient identification, conduct assessment before medication administration, communicate with patients before and after administration, avoid workarounds, utilize available technologies in administering drugs, report all near misses or errors as well as adverse reactions among other best practices.
The nurse’s role in coordinating care to enhance quality and reduce cost
Nurses are directly involved in all areas of hospital quality improvement, including providing patient care, bedside care, data collection, surgery assistance, medication management, and other functions. Medication errors can pose a significant financial burden to the hospital and the patients. Nurses coordinates care by assessing the work environment, implementing medication safety technologies, educating patients as well as caregivers, and taking extra precaution with high alert medications, among other approaches to help reduce the financial burdens both to the patients and health organization due to medication errors (Amiri, Khademian & Nikandish, 2018).
Nurses coordinate care in many ways, including sharing knowledge related to patient care with other care team members. They also work to ensure the seamless transition of care and collaborate with interdisciplinary teams to develop a personalized and proactive care plan in managing patients’ healthcare needs. Nurses can coordinate care by sharing the health problem or advocating against unnecessary treatment or medications. This coordination can be achieved by documenting and sharing the health issue and patient progress with other healthcare team members to help in clinical decision-making (Westbrook et al., 2018). This will help in achieving cost efficiency. Proper coordination and collaborative teamwork would help share knowledge and problem-solving, reducing the costs that would have occurred during medication administration.
Stakeholders with who nurses would need to coordinate to drive quality and safety enhancements with medication administration include society in general, administrators, patients, and their families, researchers, technicians, nursing educators, and physicians, among other stakeholders to help achieve quality and safety enhancement in healthcare systems (Sherwood & Barnsteiner, 2021). Patients and their families play a critical role in ensuring quality patient safety through efficient medication administration by providing essential information or seeking clarification on medicines.
Patient safety is essential when providing health care services to patients and remains the top priority for the interdisciplinary team. The most common causes of medication errors during administration are poor communication between healthcare professionals, medical abbreviation, fatigue from nurses due to understaffing, illiteracy from patients or caregivers at home, lack of adequate pharmacologic knowledge, distractions, increased workloads, and drug miscalculation, among other reasons. It is very important to strictly adhere to the five rights of medication administration which help prevent this health care issue because they provide clear guidance on how to administer medicine.
Alotaibi, Y. K., & Federico, F. (2017). The impact of health information technology on patient safety. Saudi Medical Journal, 38(12), 1173.
Amiri, M., Khademian, Z., & Nikandish, R. (2018). The effect of nurse empowerment educational program on patient safety culture: a randomized controlled trial. BMC medical education, 18(1), 1-8.
Coles, E., Wells, M., Maxwell, M., Harris, F. M., Anderson, J., Gray, N. M., Milner, G., & MacGillivray, S. (2017)
Robertson, J. J., & Long, B. (2018). Suffering in silence: medical error and its impact on health care providers. The Journal of emergency medicine, 54(4), 402-409.
Sherwood, G., & Barnsteiner, J. (Eds.). (2021). Quality and safety in nursing: A competency approach to improving outcomes. John Wiley & Sons.
Westbrook, J. I., Raban, M. Z., Walter, S. R., & Douglas, H. (2018). Task errors by emergency physicians are associated with interruptions, multitasking, fatigue, and working memory capacity: a prospective, direct observation study. BMJ quality & safety, 27(8), 655-663.