Medication processes entail the cooperation of healthcare professionals such as a physician, pharmacists and nurses that play major roles in medication processes. The procedure usually starts from the physician's prescription, towards pharmacist’s administration and then the nurses' contribution towards monitoring and administration to the patients. We need to understand that along these medication processes is where medication errors tend to occur. This is a major concern for both the patients and healthcare professional.
According to the definition of the American National Coordinating Council for Medication Error Reporting and Prevention (NCC MERP), the medication error can be defined as "as any preventable event which may cause or lead to inappropriate medication use or patient harm while the medication is in the control of the healthcare professional, patient, or consumer. Such events may be related to professional practice, healthcare products, procedures, and systems, including prescribing, other communication, product labeling, packaging, nomenclature, compounding, dispensing, distribution, administration, education, monitoring and use (Savvato & Efstratios, 2014)”.
Medication errors are due to several causes that could either be systematic factors (heavy workload and insufficient training), patient factors (complicated condition), doctor factors (complex orders and poor handwriting) and nursing factors (personal neglect, new staff, unfamiliarity with medication and unfamiliarity with the patient) (Vesile, Sevinc & Nalan, 2011).
The patient harm potential is always serious as related to the effect of medication errors. We need to understand the kind of health consequences or implication associated with the medication errors is an unnecessary risk. Those factors associated with the cause are usually preventable. The no of death caused by medication errors annually has now increased to about 7000 deaths (Vesile, Sevinc & Nalan, 2011).
There are several factors that need to be considered in nursing roles and patient education towards medication error prevention. One of the most important factors is that of the nurses experience, especially in the no of practice years. It has been noticed that new graduates are prone to more medication errors and less able to recognize those causes of drug errors when compared to those nurses that has spent more years in practice (Vesile, Sevinc & Nalan, 2011). About those ways of effectively managing the nursing factors in medication errors, reduction in working hours of nurses now believed to help reduce medication errors. Nurturing an approach that focuses on instituting less laying of blame has been found to also help nurses to be able to report any cases of medication error to the appropriate channel without the fear of blame. It is also important for the experienced nurses to also help the new staff to identify, report to appropriate quarters and reduce medication errors effectively. Best nursing care delivery should be practiced for every patient so as to reduce the associated harm (Savvato & Efstratios, 2014).
The role of nurses in medication processes is mainly to administer the medication to the patient at the appropriate time, evaluating the desired effects of the medication process or correct any undesired effects. Medication errors can ensue from any of the following steps hence once we know where the problem comes from, prevention is achievable. As a result of the understanding towards the causes and how to prevent those causes, patients need proper education that helps them to reduce patient factors easily in the mediation process. This is especially related to proper use of medication and reporting undesired effects at the appropriate time. All these factors relating to understanding the medication errors, the various causes and various preventive measures from the nursing perspective are very important towards reduction in the complication attached to the process.
Heather Seibert, Ray Maddox, Elizabeth Flyn & Carolyn Williams (2014). Effect of barcode technology with electronic medication administration record on medication accuracy rates. Practice reports. Am J Health-Syst Pharm Vol 71 Feb 1, 2014.
Savvato Karavasiliadou & Efstratios Athanasakis (2014). An inside look into the factors contributing to medication errors in the clinical nursing practice. Review Article. Health Science Journal. Vol 8 (2014), Issue 1.
Vesile Unver, Sevinc Tastan, & Nalan Akbayrak (2011). Medication errors: perspectives of newly graduated and experienced nurses. Research International Journal of Nursing Practice 2012; 18: 317-324.