The 5 critical steps to medication administration

Medication errors in a hospital setting can be serious and even fatal. Unfortunately, in a fast-paced, high-stress environment, these mistakes are fairly common.

To fully understand why medication errors happen, it's important to note that there are five critical steps to the process of properly administering medication. While some errors are more serious than others, experts note that any mistakes a doctor or nurse makes during any step can have dire consequences.

The five steps are:

1. Prescribing

2. Transcribing

3. Dispensing

4. Administering

5. Monitoring

Since each one builds upon the last, it's important for them all to happen flawlessly.

For example, a doctor who prescribes the wrong medication may send a patient a medicine to which he or she is allergic, and that patient could be seriously harmed, even if everyone else in the chain does their jobs correctly.

However, a doctor could prescribe the proper medication, but the nurse who provides it could read the order incorrectly. The person who dispenses the medication could hand out the wrong drug. It's also possible for the person who administers the medication, even when given the right drug, to simply give out the wrong amount or give it to the wrong patient.

There are many moving parts and many medical professionals involved at every step. Proper communication is extremely important, as even the smallest mistake can result in a serious medical issue for the patient.

Have you been injured in a hospital because of a medication error made at any point in that chain? If so, it's very important for you to know all of the legal options that are available to you.

Source: American Nurse Today, "Medication errors: Best Practices," accessed Sep. 27, 2017

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