Medication Errors in Nursing

Medication errors can occur during any step in the medication administration process - from the ordering by a healthcare provider to preparation by a pharmacist to delivery to the patient by a nurse.

There often are even more steps involving other members of the healthcare team, such as technicians or transporters.

As the final step in the administration process and the last line of defense against medication errors, nurses must follow the rights of medication administration to minimize the risk of medication errors:

  1. Right patient
  2. Right medication
  3. Right dose
  4. Right route
  5. Right time
  6. Right documentation
  7. Right reason
  8. Right response
Medication Errors in Nursing

Types of Medication Errors

Although errors may occur at any point, they are most common at the ordering or prescribing stage. During or following medication administration is when many types of medication errors in nursing are discovered.

Some Common Medication Error Types Include:

  • Incorrect patient
  • Prescribing errors
  • Inaccurate order transcription
  • Administration of incorrect drug or dose
  • Wrong dose preparation or timing
  • Incorrect route of administration
  • Failure to obtain or consider allergy history
  • Consideration of patient renal or liver function

Causes of Medication Errors

To reduce the occurrence of medication errors in nursing, faculty and nursing students need to understand the common causes of medication errors and the risk factors, such as poor communication, high volume, and lack of monitoring, that make errors more likely.

Some Common Causes of Medication Errors Include:

  • Incorrect preparation
  • Incorrect drug strength or dose
  • Incorrect dosing duration
  • Expired product
  • Incorrect timing or rate
  • Known allergen or contraindication
  • Pharmacist error
  • Distraction
  • Poor handwriting or translation
  • Lack of consideration of patient age or other health conditions

Medication Errors in Nursing Resources

Learn more about medication errors in nursing, including types of medication errors, causes of medication errors, and common medication errors by exploring the content below.

Types and Causes of Medication Errors

Medication Errors
Find out what medication errors have recently been reported to the Institute for Safe Medication Practices (ISMP) and learn recommendations for best practices to help avoid these errors.

NCPD Agent-Based Modeling Simulation of Nurse Medication Administration Errors
CIN: Computers, Informatics, Nursing
3 contact hours

Multifactorial Causes of Tacrolimus Errors: Confusion with Strength/Formulation, Look-Alike Names, Preparation Errors, and More
Home Healthcare Now

Examples of Medication Errors in Nursing

Medication Errors Collection

Medication Errors Involving Nursing Students: A Systematic Review
Nurse Educator

Pediatric Drugs Commonly Involved in Drug Errors
Nursing Drug Handbook Toolkit

Elder Care Medication Tips
Nursing Drug Handbook Toolkit