Medication process is the series of steps involved in the administration of medication to patients. The process begins from prescription to monitoring and evaluation of the effect of the drug on the patient. A number of health professionals are involved at different stages of the process with physicians participating in the initial stages and nurses at later stages as they are the ones who administer the medication to patients. It is, therefore, important that an effective coordination be ensured so that the process is free of medication errors. Medication errors refer to occurrences of avoidable nature that may harm the patient or result in improper use of medication. These errors can emanate from various sources involving the practice, the products, the systems or the procedures involved.
Studies indicate that the medication errors have resulted in detrimental consequences including deaths and the numbers of deaths seem to have increased between 1983 and 1993. For this trend to be reversed, the factors contributing to the problem need to be carefully determined so that the proper preventive measures can be put in place. Health systems that are well designed are less prone to medication errors as compared to faulty or weak healthcare systems.
Background of the study
The main purpose of this study is to research on the factors, of both organizational and personal nature, contributing to medication error incidence especially in the field of clinical nursing. The secondary objectives include; 1) development of a taxonomic representation of nursing errors, 2) description of perceptions of nurses on medication errors and various issues surrounding their occurrence and 3) investigation of the communication challenges within the nursing team environment.
This study is of great importance to nursing practice because, nurses being the actual administrators of medication to patients, are directly associated with the majority of the medication errors that occur in the medication process. The responsibility on medication errors often falls on nurses even when the faults have occurred elsewhere in the medication process. It is therefore necessary that the factors and causes that lead to these errors be precisely identified and analyzed so that accountability is ensured. This study hopes to answer the question: what factors are responsible for medication errors within nursing practice?
Methods of study
The research design used for this study is quantitative. A meta-analysis of various studies has been the approach used to tackle the research objectives. The research materials used for the study were previous studies relevant to the research and which were carried out over the period between the beginning of 1990 and the end of 2012. The articles were not restricted to any research design method, but they had to be original and containing the full details of the research topics for which they were designed. Another characteristic of the articles used was that they had to have nurses or student nurses as the subjects. In addition, the setting for the studies used had to be in hospitals. Moreover, the articles had to have relevant information on the factors contributing to medication errors. Three primary sources and ten secondary sources were used for the meta-analysis after careful assessment of content and relevance to the study topic based on the inclusion criteria.
According to the results generated, medication errors have been found to result from both organizational and personal errors. There is no specific weight that has been assigned to indicate the level of contribution of the two categories, and they have, therefore, been treated to carry similar weight. However, the number of individual factors supersedes that of organizational factors for this study.
Several individual factors responsible for medication errors have been identified including; miscommunication between both nurses and physicians, failure by nurses to follow instructions, physical exhaustion of nurses, illegible physicians’ prescription, insufficient clinical experience of nurses, and personal neglect such as failure to follow medication procedures. The organizational factors that have been found to contribute to medication errors include; distractions by other people within the hospital environment, heavy work-load as a result of high ratio of patients to nurses and, errors resulting from new staff lacking adequate information about the medication procedures.
These findings impact all areas of nursing from the environment, the organization and even the personal behavior and characteristics of individuals within the health system. The issues raised from these results can be incorporated in nursing education to ensure that nurses join the practice with a clear understanding of the causes and implications associated with medication error. This will encourage them to actively play their part in reducing the occurrence of medication errors.
The research meets ethical requirements of content reliability as it has been reviewed by the department of nursing of the Technical Educational Institute of Athens. The privacy of the patients involved has also been protected as their personal information has not been disclosed for whatever purpose in all the articles used. However, there could be a possibility of some of the subjects providing the wrong information, and this poses an ethical dilemma (Karavasiliadou and Athanasakis, 2014).
Finding out the factors that contribute to medical errors is very crucial in developing strategic measures aimed at preventing their occurrence. Individuals and organizations alike within the healthcare delivery system should play their specific roles in ensuring that these errors do not occur hence ensuring the safety of patient-care. Health care systems need to be strengthened by proper coordination of their processes and personnel in order to seal any gaps that could lead to infiltration of faults that may lead to errors in medication and subsequent detrimental consequences to patients. It is the responsibility of all clinicians to practice beneficence as a moral responsibility.
Karavasiliadou, S. and Athanasakis, E. (2014). An Inside Look into the Factors Contributing to Medication Errors in the Clinical Nursing Practice: Health Science Journal. Volume 8.