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Radiology Daily
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Patient Participation Helps Avoid Medication Errors

March 11, 2008
Written by: , Filed in: Practice Management
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A factor that appears to make a huge difference in avoiding medical errors is
instructing and encouraging patients to be involved in their own health care,
whether it be the right site for surgery or the right medication.

Medication errors that result in death or severe patient disability are under
intense evaluation for developing good preventive practices. At the bedside,
new scanning technologies are now available so that the nurse can scan the
patient’s identification bracelet and then scan the medication to verify that
everything matches correctly. This and other available technologies designed
to help the staff have been met with mixed responses.

While the technology can make things go much more rapidly, it does not replace
the need for the nurse to read and verify that the right medication is being
given at the right strength to the right patient. By scanning all that
information, errors can still occur.

It is very unfortunate when these errors occur, but it all goes back to the
really simple things of talking to the patient and verifying that he or she is
the correct individual for whom the medication is intended.

Often, after an error has occurred, the investigator is told, “Well, I was
taking care of both patients in that room and I knew them both.” A simple
human error can cause a medication error that can result in harm to a patient.

As with most ‘never events,’ communication breakdown is an issue that leads to
the problem for the patient. Whenever possible, involving the patient in
his/her own care makes a huge difference in avoiding medical errors, such as
the right site for surgery or the right medication.

Patients must be instructed and encouraged to speak up. That way, when the
nurse brings the purple pill to them and they have not regularly been
receiving that pill, they can feel comfortable enough to say, “This is
something different,” or “Why is this pill being given now?” This makes the
patient part of the health care team.

One of the more cumbersome changes in health care during the last few years
has been medication reconciliation. The purpose of medication reconciliation
is to know what medications a patient receives at home and also to bring the
patient into that entire process so that we can, in fact, ask them to
participate actively and tell us if they are not familiar with a drug or the
way it looks.

Once questioned, the nurse can explain what the medication is, or the nurse
may be able to say, “You’re right. I don’t want to give you that pill. I want
to give that to your roommate,” or “I want to give that to the other patient
who has the same last name on the unit right now.” Communicating with your
patients is as important as talking to your fellow team members.

Reference:
Kathleen Hale, RN, BSN, MHSA, and Richard P. Kidwell, JD Medication Errors:
Encourage Patient Participation to Reduce Errors

A factor that appears to make a huge difference in avoiding medical errors is instructing and encouraging patients to be involved in their own health care, whether it be the right site for surgery or the right medication. Medication errors that result in death or severe patient disability are under intense evaluation for developing good preventive practices. At the bedside, new scanning technologies are now available so that the nurse can scan the patient's identification bracelet and then scan the medication to verify that everything matches correctly. This and other available technologies designed to help the staff have been met with mixed responses. While the technology can make things go much more rapidly, it does not replace the need for the nurse to read and verify that the right medication is being given at the right strength to the right patient. By scanning all that information, errors can still occur. It is very unfortunate when these errors occur, but it all goes back to the really simple things of talking to the patient and verifying that he or she is the correct individual for whom the medication is intended. Often, after an error has occurred, the investigator is told, "Well, I was taking care of both patients in that room and I knew them both." A simple human error can cause a medication error that can result in harm to a patient. As with most 'never events,' communication breakdown is an issue that leads to the problem for the patient. Whenever possible, involving the patient in his/her own care makes a huge difference in avoiding medical errors, such as the right site for surgery or the right medication. Patients must be instructed and encouraged to speak up. That way, when the nurse brings the purple pill to them and they have not regularly been receiving that pill, they can feel comfortable enough to say, "This is something different," or "Why is this pill being given now?" This makes the patient part of the health care team. One of the more cumbersome changes in health care during the last few years has been medication reconciliation. The purpose of medication reconciliation is to know what medications a patient receives at home and also to bring the patient into that entire process so that we can, in fact, ask them to participate actively and tell us if they are not familiar with a drug or the way it looks. Once questioned, the nurse can explain what the medication is, or the nurse may be able to say, "You're right. I don't want to give you that pill. I want to give that to your roommate," or "I want to give that to the other patient who has the same last name on the unit right now." Communicating with your patients is as important as talking to your fellow team members. Reference: Kathleen Hale, RN, BSN, MHSA, and Richard P. Kidwell, JD Medication Errors: Encourage Patient Participation to Reduce Errors [text_ad]
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