Safe medication administration not only includes being able to do the seven rights, but also knowing what those seven checks mean and applying critical thinking skills in order to see each of those rights through (Hughes, 2008). The classroom can only teach a nursing student so much. There are some things that many of us have to learn the hard way.
For example, we learn what medications are for and what they do, and we learn how to give medications to our patients in class. We learn the rights, we memorize the rights, we go through the actions of doing the rights. And from the quiet, flexible classroom we learn from our mistakes but never learn how to work with the distractions that a real hospital with real patients that provide real consequences to our every action.
I never would have guessed how vastly different having the head knowledge and actually applying that knowledge is. Through our instructors, experienced nurses, and mistakes we learn that safe practice includes so much more than simply going through the actions we were taught in class.
I have realized that many times I let my eagerness to please people get in the way of my proper thinking skills. I am so eager to get the job done right that I say the first thing that comes to my head and I’ve quickly realized that it’s usually the wrong thing to say. I need to realize that I am the type of person that needs to just take a second to think about what is being asked before blurting out the first thing that comes to my head.
Having the many distraction of a hospital unit can cause many medication errors when a person is not focused on what they are doing (Karakashian & Schub, 2018). This clinical has taught me how easy it is to make a medication error and how we need to ensure that things like that never happen. The patients are often the ones that suffer the consequences when a nurse is not competent enough to provide safe and timely care.
Paying attention to the small details can be the difference between life and death. It might sound dramatic, but it really isn’t. The difference between one decimal point can mean an overdose on drugs or it could also mean not getting enough to even treat the problem. Nurses are supposed to protect their patients from these types of medication errors.
In preventing errors, a nurse must know the way the drug reacts in the body, indications for use, monitor the patient before and after administration, and also know how to spot and treat adverse effects of the medication (Schub & Heering, 2018). Paying attention to details like this means that a nurse will provide accuracy and thoroughness to each task they perform (nurselabs.net).
When it comes to providing accurate care, I know there are some things I can do to prevent my own mistakes and give the best possible care to my patients. First off, I have a terrible memory, and this can also get me in trouble sometimes.
When I don’t write something down where I can see it and be reminded of it all the time I will forget. I was working closely with one nurse this week and I noticed that when I told her something important, she immediately wrote it down on her hand. I suppose I was staring so intently at her because she looked up and apologized for writing on her hand. She told me she has a permanent black mark on her hand from writing things down on it because she is forgetful.
I told her not to worry and that I do that too because my memory is so bad as well. I thought that writing things on my hand would make me look unprofessional and make my hand look dirty, but when this nurse expressed that she too forgets a lot and has to write it on her hand to remember things, I realized that I need to continue doing the same. It helps me to remember what I’ve charted since I am constantly reminded of it because my hand is in front of my eyes so often.
Second, I can provide safe care by writing down a schedule for myself each day. I have noticed that during report the nurses print out a sheet that has each of their patients on it and the relevant information for that day. It is so helpful to be able to look at these pages to know throughout the day what each patient needs and the tasks that need to be completed.
I can keep a checklist of the medication I need to be administering that day, at what times they need to be given, and what they are being used for. This may take a lot of time and planning to be accurate and to have it prepared for the day to come, but clinicals are made to stretch knowledge into practice before we are out of the watchful eye of our instructors.
To reiterate, I will prevent further medication errors from happening by accurately documenting my vital signs, and if they are needed for safe administration I will write them on my hand to bring them to my instructor when asked, I will stop to think about the question I have been asked, I will not say anything I am unsure of unless I know it is one hundred percent accurate, and I will ask questions when I am unsure of something being asked. No matter how tired or how eager I am to please someone, that should not get in the way of making sure my patients are cared for by providing safe medication administration and never skipping any essential steps.
- Hughes, R. G. (2008). Medication administration safety. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK2656/
- T., Schub, & Helle Heering. (2018). Medication errors: Preventing – general principles. Nursing Practice & Skill. Cinahl Information Systems, Glendale, CA.
- Karakashian, A., & Schub, T. (2018). Medication errors – distractions and interruptions. Evidence-Based Care Sheet. Cinahl Information Systems, Glendale, CA.
- Performance Eduation. (2017). How can you develop your attention to detail? Retrieved from https://www.performance.edu.au/blog/how-can-you-develop-your-attention-detail
- Nursinguniforms.net (2011). 9 qualities of a great nurse. Retrieved from http://nursinglink.monster.com/education/articles/21900-9-qualities-of-a-great-nurse?print=true