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Medication protocols are essential to patient safety

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, medication mistakes cause approximately 700,000 emergency department visits each year across the United States. Some of these drug errors even lead to the deaths of patients. Therefore, it is critically important that nursing professionals in Ohio are familiar with the federal regulations regarding the administration of medications.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has several rules that must be followed when medication is given to a patient in the hospital. First, the identity of the patient must be verified. This must be done in accordance with the facility's policies and may include verifying the patient's full name, date of birth or hospital identification number. Methods of confirmation may include scanning the patient's wrist band or obtaining a patient statement. Second, the correct medication must be verified. Drugs with similar sounding names, such as Adderall and Inderal, can cause confusion and lead to deadly results if a mistake is made. Third, care must be taken to ensure the correct dosage is administered. A dose that is too high or too low can have grave consequences. Next, the method of administration, such as oral, intravenous or intramuscular, must be confirmed. Finally, care must be taken to ensure a medication is administered at the proper time.

These regulations may seem elementary, and some nursing professionals may think they could never break such simple safeguards. However, a large percentage of hospital medication errors occur because a nurse breached one of these rules.

A person who has been harmed by a medication error may want to meet with an attorney to discuss whether the filing of a medical malpractice suit against the health care practitioner or facility would be appropriate. The attorney can explain the process and describe the type of evidence that needs to be presented.

Source: Minority Nurses, "Why Med Safety Matters," Dexter Vickerie, Dec. 18, 2015

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