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Reducing Prescription Errors

The Food and Drug Administration has counted approximately 30,000 reports of prescription drug errors, since 1992. There could be a lot more than 30,000 reports because these reports are considered voluntary.

When a patient is given the wrong medication or the wrong dosage amounts it can cause serious illness, injuries and even death.

It is imperative that hospitals, medical facilities and nursing homes follow proper procedures for reducing prescription errors. It is not only the job of a doctor or nurse to prevent mistakes is also the job of the patient and the patient’s family.

Here are 10 tips on reducing prescription errors:

  1. Put a ‘0’ directly in front of the decimal point (ex. 0.30).

    For example, a prescription dosage of .30mg can be easily mistaken as 30mg.

  2. Double check medical procedures - then check again.

    This step requires that another medical staff person on an incoming shift, within the same work shift or an incoming shift, reviews every new order. This will ensure that each patient’s order is transcribed and noted accurately on the medication administration record and the physician’s order.

  3. Have another nurse or doctor read back the order to you.

    Have a nurse or a doctor read back an order to make sure the medication is transcribed properly. People are more likely to capture mistakes when they read out loud rather than read it silently.

  4. Read the expiration date and the prescription label.

    Just because a nurse or doctor has the correct medication doesn’t guarantee the label is printed correctly.

  5. Always document everything.

    Make sure to document everything including documentation and medication labeling. Scenario, a nurse forgets to document patient’s medication. This could cause another nurse to administer an additional dosage. Now the patient is overmedicated. Documentation helps in preventing dosage errors.

  6. Use a patient name alert.

    Some medical facilities use name alerts to help avoid mixing similar sounding names. A good example of this would be Jacob and Jacobs or Smythe and Smith.

  7. Utilize medication reconciliation procedures properly.

    There are times when a patient will need to be transported from one unit of the facility to another or from one facility to a completely different facility.

  8. Make sure the five rights of prescription medication are followed.

    It is imperative that medical facilities policies associated with a medication transcription are followed properly. These policies are also called the 5 Rights. The medical staff should review and make sure the proper medication is prescribed for the right patient, including the proper prescription dosage, the right timing and the accurate route.

    In addition, it is crucial to verify with the patient, patient’s family, and the transferring medical facility. Doing this stuff will help protect the patient against prescription errors.

  9. Make sure to always check the expiration date of all medication.

    Always double check to make sure the medication has not expired.

  10. Make sure all prescription medications are stored properly.

    There are some medications that require refrigeration. Make sure to double check to see if the medication needs to be refrigerated upon opening.

Have you or a loved one have been injured or experienced a serious illness due to a prescription drug error? You may be eligible for compensation for your pain. Contact our medical malpractice attorneys in Nashua, New Hampshire for a free, no-obligation consultation. Call the offices of Anzalone Law Firm PLLC, at: 603.548.3797.

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