For many patients the scariest part of being in the hospital is having to rely on other people to control your life changing decisions. One large part of this is the medications one is given while in our care. I can only imagine what it must be like for patients to have a stranger to come in and start administering drugs to me. This would be especially scary if I did not know what these medications did, or what negative effects could be caused by taking them. Unfortunately, the fear of medication errors that many patients have are not unfounded. Estimates range from 1.5 to 66 million patients a year have medication errors occur while they are in the care of health care professionals. Considering all of the technology we have at our finger tips today one would think that we would be beyond this magnitude of errors by now. However, you always have to account for the human element involved in all of these situations.
I recently read an article trying to fully understand how we can eliminate as many medication errors as possible. The article titled ASHP Guidelines on preventing Medication Errors in Hospitals that outlined many different avenues that both individuals and organizations can take to reduce the occurrence of medication errors. Overall, I must say that I agree with most of the methods described in the writing. One of the most notable suggestions I read was under the Organizational and Departmental Recommendations section. It stated "Care and consideration must be given in hiring and assigning personnel involved in medication ordering, preparation, dispensing, administration, and patient education. Policies and procedures should be developed that ensure adequate personnel selection, training, supervision, and evaluation. This would include the need to ensure proper interviewing, orientation, evaluation of competency, supervision, and opportunities for continuing professional and technical education (American Society of Hospital Pharmacists, 1993)."
I truly believe that most medication errors are a result of human error, and are not related to much else. When I say this, however, most people would picture the nurse giving the wrong medication due to lack of focus on the tasks at hand. While this could happen, I have noticed during my time at hospitals that the doctor orders are still hand written for the most part. Consequently, they can be very hard to be read legibly much less correctly translated into proper medication dosages. The first suggestion I would give to an organization would be that they required all orders to be submitted securely, by the doctors, to the pharmacy be electronic means.
Computers have evolved at an extremely fast pace in the past few years. We would be at an extreme disadvantage if we did not take the opportunity to use this to our benefit. With the common place of wireless networks and mobile platforms, such as the IPAD, doctors could carry out such changes fairly readily and...