Most medication errors are preventable. Knowing about medication errors and taking preventive measures is the best way to lower these errors. We have curated frequently asked questions about medication errors and their answers to help you understand more about the problem:
Q1. What is a medication error?
Medication errors can occur due to different reasons including incomplete patient information, poor communication between caregivers and doctors and confusion because of same-sounding medications.
Q2. What are the different types of medication errors?
From the time a patient is prescribed to the time he or she is administered the drug, a medication error can occur at any stage. Here are some common medication errors:
1. Prescribing errors: This occurs when the doctor’s instructions about the dose, dosage form, quantity, route of administration, concentration are not clear.
2. Miscommunication between staff and doctors: Poor communication among the nursing staff and the doctors can also lead to medication errors. Poor handwriting, ambiguous abbreviations and confusing verbal instructions are some of the contributing factors.
3. Missed dose: The failure to administer a prescribed dose to a patient at the right time can also cause medication error. This could be because of the patient’s refusal or medicine not being in the inventory.
4. Illegible writing: Health facilities where paper-based MAR sheets are still used, face the challenge of illegible handwriting. In many healthcare settings, illegible handwriting creates confusion, making it difficult for staff to properly handle the medication administration process.
Q3. What are the consequences of medication errors?
Medication errors should be taken seriously as they can cause serious health problems. Depending on the cause and type of errors, patients can experience mild to moderate problems like allergic reactions like hives, rash, or itching, swelling, fever or wheezing. However, some patients can also suffer from serious health issues including breathing problems, kidney problems, hospitalisation and even death.
Q4. How to ensure that the right patient gets the right drug?
1.One of the best ways to reduce medication errors is to reduce human errors at different stages of the medication cycle, including prescribing, dispensing, and administering. Illegible handwriting, lack of sufficient medical history of patients, improper transcription of prescription, confusing similar drug names and poor inventory stocking are some of the problem areas that should be addressed.
2. Peer-to-peer review: To ensure proper compliance in care operations, make sure there is a thorough peer-to-peer review system in place.
Q5. How can technology help in reducing medication errors? Technology is changing the way the healthcare sector has been functioning. Earlier, the sector solely relied on manual work. However, care homes of different types in the UK are streamlining their medication administration by embracing the electronic medication system. Designed to look like conventional paper-based MAR sheets, eMAR sends real-time alerts to caregivers so that no dose is missed. It eliminates problems like illegible notes and incomplete patient information. By integrating eMAR with pharmacies, caregivers can easily restock medication inventory without any hassle.