Medication Errors Made by Nurses in Hospitals

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Nurses have a difficult job.  The work they do – providing medical care – is challenging enough.  Throw in high daily workload volumes and it’s understandable just how demanding a role nurses endure.

But that’s not to excuse the preventable mistakes in patient care they make, such as medication errors, because patients can suffer real and irreparable harm from them.

Mistakes in dispensing medications are a leading type of medical error.  Some estimates link as many as 7,000 patient deaths each year to a drug error.  Medication mistakes by nurses are of particular concern as nurses are often the frontline of patient care, serving as the connection between doctors and loved ones.  Communication mistakes in many instances can be catastrophic.

A new study, recently published on the Applied Nursing Research website, found that medication errors by nurses not only occur frequently, but it also uncovered what types of drugs are most likely administered incorrectly.

Errors with Cardiovascular Drugs Most Common

Of the almost 1,300 medication errors made by hospital registered nurses included in the study, almost a quarter of them involved cardiovascular drugs.  Within this category of medications, mistakes in administering anticoagulants were the most prevalent.

The errors occurred between November 2011 and July 2014.  The data was gathered from seven treatment centers in hospitals: intensive care unit, emergency room, surgical and medical care, patient rehab, cardiac care, and pediatrics.

About 10 percent of the medication errors harmed patients.

Types of Medication Mistakes

There are many types of hospital drug errors, including:

·         Drugs given in the incorrect dosage

·         Medications given to the wrong patient

·         Delay or omission in administering medications

·         An oral medication given intravenously, or vice versa

Since so many serious medication errors are preventable, the study’s authors provide recommendations for curtailing them, most of which focus on better education and training for hospital registered nurses.

Others who have examined this problem also cite as a significant factor hospital staffing that overloads nurses.  Hospitals must be realistic in the number of patients they expect nurses to treat, as well as the length of shifts they schedule nurses to work.

If you lost a loved one or if you were seriously hurt by a drug error or another type of preventable mistake in medical care, consult an experienced medical malpractice attorney to investigate your case and represent your legal rights.

The choice of a lawyer is an important decision that should not be based solely on advertising.

Authored by Gray, Ritter & Graham, P.C. in Medical Malpractice on January 9, 2017