The prevalence of medical errors, especially medication errors in nursing, deserves attention. In fact, there is reliable evidence to show that more than ever before, health professionals, starting from doctors to nurses and even laboratory scientists, are having to deal with so many patients that outnumber their staffing. Even more, it isn’t hard to see that the health world hasn’t been spared by the impact of the new technology with the number of computerized systems that are found in hospitals and clinics.

All of these mean that health professionals are now prone to making medical errors especially medication errors in nursing, because the truth is, the sudden spike in the number of medical errors is shown to be not unconnected to the issues which have been earlier mentioned, that is, overwork and internal systemic changes.

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As of now, Medcom Trainex, have published some alarming numbers. Some of them are: As many as 400,000 Americans are victims of medical errors. As if that isn’t even bad enough,10,000 of them have to deal with complications that are as a result of these medical errors.

Interestingly, the findings from this institution show that medical errors especially medication errors don’t simply happen because the health professionals were indifferent in the discharge of their duties when patients came around or some other kind of negligence, it was only a reflection of what we already mentioned: overwork and systemic changes.

Nurses just had much more work than they could handle each day. Besides, they found it difficult to adapt to the latest development in the world of technology through health. That being said, we would consider just one out of the many medical errors, which is medication errors in nursing.

Types Of Medication Errors in Nursing

First, we would begin by itemizing the types of medication errors before we began the identification of their causes then we round off discussing preventive measures against the occurrences of these so-called medication errors.

Prescribing Errors

The name is quite self-explanatory. This type of medication error happens in the event of wrong selection of drugs which happen to be out of place to the patient’s allergies. It could be in terms of dosage levels, concentration or even mode of administration such as oral or intravenous.

Omission Errors

Sometimes health professionals are guilty of not giving medications before the administration of the next one. This type of medication error is known as omission error.

Fragmented Errors

There always ought to be liaison between the doctor and other health professionals when it comes to administration of drugs to patients. However, this isn’t always the case because breakdown of information could occur and result in what is called fragmented errors.

Wrong Drug Preparation Errors

Some medications can be too concentrated to just give the patients, hence these medications need to be formulated, that is, diluted to evade any potential harm to the patient. In this type of medication error, the dilution solution turns out to be either little or much.

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Improper Administration Technique Errors
Drugs can either be administered orally or intravenously, but the mode of administration is dependent on the many factors of which the patient greatly contributes to.

Causes of Medication Errors


Since health professionals are humans like you and I, they are prone to making mistakes, many of which can be life-threatening. Take for instance, a nurse reads “Diazepam” as “Diltiazem”. The effects are grave if the latter happens to be one of the allergies of the patient.

Lack of Knowledge

Experience is many times a direct measure of knowledge. Sometimes, these nurses are simply ignorant of the fact that certain drugs have different names or family names. Ignorance could also manifest in the nurse not knowing the functionality of a particular drug.

Memory Lapse

This particular cause can come off as incompetence, the truth still remains that forgetfulness is a human phenomenon. Nurses can forget that a patient is allergic to certain substances or even forget the required dosage for a particular drug.


Understaffing is very underrated. If hospital administrators knew how this issue can decrease the productivity of their health professionals, many medication errors would have been avoided. Asides from this, environmental errors can also include: poor lightning or even uncontrolled temperature.

Preventive Measures

Truth be told, it isn’t within the jurisdiction of nurses to make major structural changes especially when medication errors surface, however, they can suggest some measures that can be taken to forestall such, some of them we would be looking at now.

Good Knowledge of the Patient

This particular preventive measure can’t be overstated. Information such as name, age, birth, weight, vital signs, previous medical history and even allergies must be well documented in such a way that they are easily accessible. In fact, the latest technology allows you to put all of this information in a barcode that can serve as an armband.

Good Knowledge of the Drug

As beneficial as drugs in helping patients recover, if they are taken wrongly, they could turn out to be as harmful as the disease they were taken to fight. This therefore implies that nurses should avoid making assumptions when administering any drug, if they are in doubt at any point, it is important nurses ask.

Proper Documentation of Drugs Administered

This is another ignored practice by nurse that has resulted into several types of medication errors. It is important that immediately drugs are administered to patients, there should be a proper recording of the drug information, dosage, route, and even patient’s response that should follow.

Double Check High Alert Medicines

Some drugs are known as high alert medicines because upon administration, their effect is quick and often irreversible. Some of these drugs include heparin which is an effective anticoagulant. These kinds of drugs should be boldly labelled and kept in specific places.

Effective Communication

Communication lag among health professionals can prove fatal in the long run because sometimes the lives of patients are at the mercy of feedback exchanged between the doctor and the nurse. To solve the event of miscommunication, the SBAR system has been introduced. SBAR stands for Situation Background Assessment Recommendation.


Medical errors especially the medication errors in nursing can be a very bitter pill for both the patient and the health professional to swallow. For the patients, we can have a situation where a family loses their loved ones, and for health professionals, distrust and resentment can grow in the heart of patients towards them or even they lose confidence in what they can do.





Abdullahi Suleiman a Certified Registered Nurse based in Nigeria, an Entrepreneur and Also a Blogger, passionate about Community Development and Cosmetic Nursing

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