When patients end up spending time in a Pennsylvania hospital, they often see their nurses more than they see their doctors. Without a doubt, most nurses work hard and truly want to help their patients. The problem is that they often feel stretched too thin and are in too much of a time crunch to get everything done that needs doing.
This puts nurses in a particularly precarious position when it comes to the care of patients. They do most of the monitoring and dispensing of medication, which often go hand-in-hand. Under these circumstances, it's easy to miss something and make a medication mistake that could cause serious or deadly harm to a patient.
What nurses can do to avoid medication mistakes
Because the potential for mistakes can be incredibly high, nurses need to make sure that they give the task enough time and concentration to get it right. In order to do this, the following steps are recommended:
- At the beginning of a shift, nurses need to review the charts of the patients under their care. When it comes to the medications they administer while on duty, each requires verification and comparison between patient records and administrative logs. Nurses should address any potential discrepancies with doctors. If orders need clarification, this is the time for it to happen.
- If a nurse doesn't have a familiarity with a medication, this is also the time to ask questions about it since administering an unknown medication could lead to unknown complications for the patient.
- Some medications can cause significant harm to patients if not administered correctly. Nurses should independently double check dosage amounts and rates of administration.
- When it comes time to administer a medication, nurses need to verify that they have the right patient, the right medication and the right dosage. They also need to make sure administration occurs in the right manner at the right time.
Taking these steps could prevent a tragedy for a patient. Unfortunately, nurses do not always take these steps.
When nurses make serious medication mistakes
If you or a loved one spent time in a hospital and suffered harm due to a medication error, it may have occurred due to some mistake on the part of a nurse. You may think, as others do, that medical malpractice claims only arise out of the action, or inaction, of doctors. However, that isn't the case. Nurses may also face recriminations for their actions through the civil court system.
During what is likely a difficult time, you need to know your rights and understand what steps you may take legally to receive compensation for the harm done to you by a medication error. You may do as others before you have done and seek out the help of legal resources in your area.