Preventing Medication Errors in Nursing

How can we, as nurses, prevent medication errors? Our role is critical as we are the last line of defense against medication errors.

To reduce errors, we must follow the rights of medication administration, which includes involving the patient and their family in the process, among other rights. We must also ensure we are well-rested, free from interruptions, and using the most up-to-date resources for drug information.

Our institution is also critical in making sure our access to resources, as well as our policies and procedures for medication administration, are optimal.

Preventing Medication Errors in Nursing

Preventing and Reducing Medication Errors

Reducing medication errors is critical. In addition to recognizing common medication error risk factors, nurses must implement workplace strategies to prevent adverse drug events.

Measures to Prevent Medication Errors Include:

  • Minimize and address confusion, inexperience, fatigue and other factors that affect performance.
  • Ask for assistance when dealing with high volume or medically complex patients.
  • Double-check dosing of medications, especially high-alert medications.
  • Clarify drug, dosage, frequency and other details with the pharmacist or prescribing healthcare provider if there is any uncertainty.
  • Recheck calculations; perform double-checks when necessary.
  • Check for drug allergies and contraindications before administration.
  • Check for renal and liver dysfunction before administering medications.

Medication Error Prevention Resources

Learn more about preventing medication errors in nursing, safe practice recommendations, and reducing medication errors in specific settings by exploring the content below.

Safe Practice Recommendations

Best Practices to Decrease Infusion-Associated Medication Errors
Journal of Infusion Nursing

Medication Safety: Go beyond the basics
Lippincott NursingCenter

Safe Medication Use in the ICU [Guideline Summary]
Lippincott NursingCenter

NCPD Secondary Medication Administration and IV Smart Pump Setup
AJN, American Journal of Nursing

Preventing Medication Errors

Preventing medication errors in the information age

Reduction of Medication Errors: A Unique Approach
Journal of Nursing Care Quality

Reducing Medication Error Through a Collaborative Committee Structure: An Effort to Implement Change in a Community-Based Health System
Quality Management in Health Care

Additional Resources

Avoiding common drug errors: Best practices and prevention
Nursing Drug Handbook Toolkit

Nursing process: Patient safety during drug therapy
Nursing Drug Handbook Toolkit

Abbreviations to avoid: The Joint Commission
Nursing Drug Handbook Toolkit

Preventing miscommunication
Nursing Drug Handbook Toolkit