Being a nurse can be a thankless job. You work long hours, deal with difficult personalities whether it be a patient, a doctor or another member of the hospital staff, and you probably have far too many patients to keep track of during your shift.

Even so, you keep doing your job because you feel as though you can make a difference in people’s lives. You help make them better and work diligently to make sure that you do not harm them or make them worse. Moreover, you understand that if you lose your nursing license, you lose your livelihood, so you try not to make a mistake that will end up harming you and the patient.

Preventing medication mistakes is part of the job

Medication mistakes could risk the patient and your license. Like it or not, you are probably the “last line of defense” between the patient and this type of error. The following may help you avoid a mistake that could result in permanent, debilitating or fatal harm to the patient:

  • Review all of the medication orders at least at the start of your shift to make sure they are accurate, make sense and still stand from the last shift.
  • Conduct our own calculations regarding a medication. Even if you fear a doctor may not like it, your duty to the patient takes precedence.
  • If you aren’t familiar with a medication, obtain more information before administering it to the patient.
  • Observe the rights of medication administration:
    • Right patient
    • Right time
    • Right drug
    • Right dose
    • Right route
    • Right reason
  • Make sure that the patient and/or family members understand the medication regimen. Having another set of eyes on the issue could help avoid any mistakes.

Hopefully, you work in an environment that encourages cooperation among the doctors, nurses and other hospital staff. The more communication there is among everyone involved, the more likely it is that mistakes won’t happen. Of course, this may all be a perfect world scenario.

There may be shifts where you barely have time to breathe, let alone make sure that every patient’s medication administration goes according to plan. You do your best, but what happens if someone says your best isn’t good enough? What if something happens and a complaint is filed against you? You may find yourself fighting to defend yourself and keep your nursing license. With so much at stake, it may be in your best interest not to go through the process alone.