The Institute of Medicine’s (IOM) 1999 report, To Err Is Human: Building a Safer Health System, stated that medication-related errors were a significant cause of morbidity and mortality, accounting “for one out of every 131 outpatient deaths, and one out of 854 inpatient deaths.” Building on this work and previous IOM reports, the IOM put forth a report in 2006 entitled Preventing Medication Errors that noted that medication errors are among the most common medical mistakes, harming at least 1.5 million people every year. Studies indicate that 400,000 preventable drug-related injuries take place in hospitals each year as a result of errors that occur at various points in the medication administration process. Although technological advances in electronic order entry, medication administration, and electronic health records hold a great deal of promise for decreasing medication errors, there are a multitude of human and environmental factors that will impact their success. Medication safety can be enhanced by technology, hardwired through the use of checklists, standard formularies, and standard drug concentrations, and improved by pharmacists on bedside rounds. At the core of medication safety, however, is the mindful, safety-conscious nurse who is aware of the risk factors that exist for the patient in a busy hospital environment. The purpose of this learning activity is to discuss the incidence and associated costs of medication errors, the sources of medication errors, current practices for dispensing medications to patients in the healthcare setting, and safety and efficiency considerations related to administering medications. The activity will conclude with a review of guidelines and recommendations that reduce the risk of medication errors and a description of some best practices for state-of-the art IT technology for administering medications.
After completing this continuing nursing education activity, the participant should be able to:
1. Discuss the incidence of medication errors, associated costs, and patient mortality.
2. List the sources of medication errors.
3. Describe current practices for dispensing medications to patients in the healthcare setting.
4. Outline safety and efficiency considerations related to administration of medications.
5. Review guidelines and recommendations that reduce the risk of medication errors.
6. Describe best practices for administering medications.
This continuing education activity is intended for registered nurses who administer medications to patients at the bedside in inpatient healthcare facilities.