Reflective accounts

Medication errors

Reading the CPD article helped me to understand the many different patient factors that contribute to the risk of medication errors, including multiple medication use, poor communication, passive involvement and complicated drug calculations.

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The advice on how to reduce interruptions and become aware of the effects of a long shift or working at night was interesting. The information on practising drug calculations to increase confidence, and improving environmental factors to minimise the risk of errors, was useful.

In my role as a sister in a nursing home, I work with residents with dementia and other physical complications. To increase my understanding of the effects of medication on older people, I intend to read additional information about the medications prescribed for each individual and their side effects.

After reading the article, I discussed with other members of the team how to limit and prevent the risk of medication errors, by reflecting on and learning more about them and ensuring the environment is safe.

We also discussed different strategies that could be implemented to limit the potential for drug errors, for example changing the location and way in which we administer medication, and addressing the educational needs of staff, thereby contributing to safe practice.

It would be valuable to organise training for all team members, with information on the latest research, as well as presentations on medications commonly used in the nursing home and on different illnesses. For example, a presentation on diabetes could cover why and how we use insulin and other drugs.

Other potential topics for presentations might include how medication is stored, the side effects of certain drugs and keeping documentation up to date.

‘Do not disturb’

I have reminded my colleagues of the procedures we should follow when administering medication – for example, making sure there are no interruptions or distractions, wearing a tabard stating ‘Please Do Not Disturb’, and ensuring there are two nurses on duty, so the second nurse is free to deal with any issues that arise during the medication round.

It is important to ensure that information on drug calculation and administration, and how to report drug errors, is readily available for team members.

In the future, I would like to implement a programme for students to encourage them to learn about medication commonly used in their placement area, how to administer medication, and how to ensure errors are avoided or reduced.

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