How to avoid drug errors

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Intravenous literature: Chris Tyreman looks at common causes of drug errors and offers his tips on how to avoid them. “I left nursing school with a first class degree; unfortunately the same could not to be said of my drug administration skills. On acute placements I had not got to grips with the drug round, and on the community placements, there was no drug trolley.

There was no job either. Preceptorship came three months later, but I wanted to work as a trained nurse straight away, so I signed on with a nursing agency. I completed my first shift in 30+ bed EMI nursing home as the nurse in charge; from zero to hero in 12 hours. Well not quite. After a minimal handover, I took possession of the keys, aware that six months had passed since I had administered any medication (apart from insulin). There were two drug trolleys (one for each floor) filled with racks of blister packs, bottles and packets of all descriptions, containing unfamiliar medications, placed in an order known only to the last user. I could work out drug dosages, having taught maths for 12 years, but I had yet to master medication administration.”

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