From prescribing to administering medication, errors can take multiple forms and occur at any stage of the medication management process. Understanding these errors is a vital component of patient care. Here, we will explore 6 prevalent types of medication errors and offer practical advice on how healthcare professionals can mitigate these risks.
1. Prescribing errors
Prescribing errors often occur when healthcare professionals make mistakes such as writing the incorrect medication name, inaccurate dosage, or unclear instructions. The consequences can range from mild discomfort to life-threatening complications for the patient. To mitigate such risks, healthcare providers should use electronic prescribing systems that come with auto-verification features. Moreover, double-checking prescriptions manually adds another layer of safety.
2. Omission errors
Omission errors happen when prescribed medication is not administered to a patient at the required time, or worse, completely overlooked. The implications of such errors can be grave, especially for treatments where timeliness is of the essence. Strategies such as strict medication administration protocols, coupled with technology such as automated reminders and barcode scanning, can prove invaluable.
3. Wrong time errors
The timely administration of medication is vital for its efficacy. Wrong time errors occur when medication is administered either too early or too late, compromising its effectiveness. Implementing standardised medication administration schedules can help align everyone on the healthcare team.
4. Unauthorised drug errors
Imagine administering medication to a patient that has not been prescribed or approved—these are unauthorised drug errors. Such errors often happen due to mix-ups with similar-sounding drug names or lapses in documentation. Rigorous medication reconciliation processes, electronic health records for cross-referencing, and fostering a culture of double-checking and validation can significantly mitigate these risks.
5. Improper dose errors
One of the most complex aspects of medication administration is ensuring the correct dose. Administering either too much or too little can be detrimental to the patient. Electronic prescribing systems with built-in dose verification tools can reduce the scope for human error. Also, training programmes focussed on proper medication administration can go a long way in avoiding dosage errors.
6. Communication errors
Last but by no means least, communication errors can lead to misunderstandings and incomplete information transfer. Poor communication can manifest in various ways, from unclear handwriting on prescriptions to miscommunication amongst healthcare staff. Standardised communication tools, electronic systems for prescribing and medication administration, as well as an environment that encourages open dialogue, are key to eliminating communication errors.
How can eMAR reduce medication administration errors?
Using eMAR can substantially diminish or even eradicate inconsistencies and mistakes in your MAR Sheets. Gone are the days of dealing with unreadable notes or overlooked signatures. Thanks to real-time medication alerts, the likelihood of missing any important details is greatly reduced. Moreover, the time invested in auditing and scrutinising MAR sheets will see a marked decrease. To book a demo, get in touch with us.