Do you recall when the newborn twins of Dennis Quaid and Jennifer Buffington were in the news? It’s hard to forget a medication error so well publicized. The infants were supposed to receive the pediatric blood thinner Hep-Lock as treatment for an infection; instead, they got two doses of the adult version, Heparin - one thousand times more potent. Their blood was the consistency of water. Thankfully, when medical tests were done after the incident, there were no permanent signs of damage.
The point, folks, is that it was a close call. It was a “never” event; it was preventable. The real question is: could it happen at your hospital? Make it your mission to master the skills of successful patient medication education.
How many of you have:
- had a close call with a medication error?
- been aware of injury or harm to a patient because of a medication error?
- challenged an order for a medication because it seemed incorrect as written?
- difficulty remembering why you were taking a drug?
Nurses are taught to be patient advocates, but sometimes when they get into the hospital, things change. Are your nurses empowered to challenge a physician about a prescription? Do they feel confident there will be no reprisals if they politely question the choice a physician has made? Have you instilled the what, how, and why of medication education in your nurses?
Do your nurses have the skills for working with patients who are confused about their meds, but won’t ask? Do they have the ability to discern and encourage patient compliance with medication regiments?
The Take Away
There’s no room for error when a difference in prescription or dosage could mean the difference between life and death.
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