Educating Nurses on How to Prevent Medication Administration Errors in Nursing

Educating Nurses on How to Prevent Medication Administration Errors in Nursing

Learning Objectives

The learning objective is based on Bloom’s taxonomy, which will assist to achieve the following:

  1. To enable students to remember causes of medication administration errors
  2. To understand the consequences of medication administration errors
  3. To apply the knowledge gained in the healthcare environment
  4. To give detailed analysis of why medication errors happen
  5. To evaluate the need for medication administration safety
  6. To come up with strategy for minimizing medication errors


Each year, tens of thousands of patients die in hospital because of preventable medical errors. Medical errors not only cause deaths, but also financial burden, which adds up to billions of money. Although there are numerous causes of medication administration errors, nurses are the main culprits in this practice. The notion of “to err is human” depicts that humans are prone to errors, but medical administrators should always be alert to correct any medical administrative error. The discharge of medication process requires a collaboration of several healthcare professionals to accomplish the process. This study will focus on medication administration errors, causes, and strategies that nurses can utilize to prevent medication errors.

Medication Administration Errors

Medication administration is usually defined as a multistep process, which include prescribing, transcribing, distribution, and administering drugs. In addition, medical administration has to ensure that patients are supervised to check for their progress. However, an error can occur during this process, and before a nurse intercepts to correct the error, a patient may die. According to Anderson and Townsend (2010), administration errors have been found to cause between 26% and 32% of all medication errors. Nurses are usually involved in the administration of medicine. Thus, medication administration errors are preventable occurrences that result when healthcare professionals give patients inappropriate medication.

Safety issues are extremely essential in nursing profession, since they ensure patients are not harmed by medications. While referring to the Bloom’s Taxonomy, nurses should handle the issue of medication administration errors through the six steps, which include remembering, understanding, applying, analyzing, evaluating, and creating. Nurses should be capable of recalling incidents that lead to medical errors and understand how to deal with them.

Causes of Medication Administration Errors

Learning the causes of medication administrative errors would assist nurses in applying new methods, rather than sticking the old ones that are prone to errors. Medical errors and deficiencies occur due to unsafe practices by nurses in the healthcare environment. Although numerous causes of medication errors exist in the healthcare facilities, nurses are perceived to be main contributors of such errors. Several studies have confirmed that personal neglect is one of the major causes of medication errors. According to Karavasiliadou and Athanasakis (2014), personal neglect may happen when a nurse fails to read instructions carefully, leading to medical errors.

Unfamiliarity with medication can result to medical errors, particularly when the nurse is unfamiliar with the names of drugs, availability of new drugs, similar packaging and labeling of drugs, and wrong selection of drugs through the computerized product list. According to a report by Food and Drug Administration (FDA), prescribing the wrong drug, in addition to utilizing the wrong route during administration, have accounted for 16% of medication errors each (Stoppler and Marks, 2014).

Numerous environmental factors can generate medication administrative errors. Such factors include poor lighting, interruption during drug administration, heavy workloads, and congested work environment. Interruptions reduce nurse’s focus, which can lead to grave mistakes. Insufficient training and lack of knowledge about patient’s condition can increase the chances of medication errors, as nurses may rush to offer prescriptions before carrying out some tests to confirm the type of illness. Lack of enough nurses in a healthcare facility can increase the chance of making mistakes, as some nurses may be compelled to undertake numerous tasks, leading to fatigue and compromising patient safety. Poor communication among nurses concerning medication administration can contribute to medication errors. Communication can be through the mouth or written information.

Reducing Medication Errors

Eliminating medical errors necessitates caution and utilization of suitable technology to ensure that appropriate procedures are followed. Smeulers et al. (2014) emphasized that medical safety is paramount because medication errors usually attract considerable healthcare costs that become a burden to both the patients and the healthcare providers. Nurses should endeavor to communicate effectively with patients to ensure that they understand what kind of care to offer to patients. Healthcare facilities should endeavor to place all medications in clearly labeled units to avoid confusion of drugs. Relevant bodies should make regular visits to healthcare facilities to identify look-alike, as well as sound-alike medicines, and initiate a process of renaming such drugs.

Nurses who manage chemotherapy should be educated on how to measure doses, locate resources, and the best methods to administer drugs. Such nurses should assess whether the drugs the drugs they are administering fall within the recognized parameters for the disease, as well as the routes and protocols to be applied (Garber, Gross and Slonim, 2010). Due to risks related to chemotherapy administration, double verification is preferable at every step in the process, and each verification should be carried out as an independent check. Each bag of chemotherapy should verified twice by two nurses before the infusion. Patients should also be allowed to ask questions about drugs to ensure that they stick to the drugs requirements.

Nurses have a big role to ensure the safety of patients through administering appropriate medication. Engaging in team learning, which involves collection of data on errors, and analyzing the data collected to implement some changes has been considered essential in limiting medication errors (Drach‐Zahavy and Pud, 2010). Learning through integrated pattern can be boosted by computerized systems to collect data necessary for learning mechanisms. Using flow charts, as well as latent error analysis can help in detecting faults. Educating patients on how to take drugs can enhance medical safety and reduce chances of errors.

Evaluating Learning Objectives

This study has offered an overview of medication administration safety with an aim to persuade students of nursing to continue learning and practicing methods of advancing the safety of medication. Some of the questions that can assist in evaluating learning objectives include:

  1. What is the expected percent of medication administration errors?
  2. Which is the appropriate method to use while estimating the actual figure of medication errors?
  3. Which reasons do nurses offer for not reporting medication administration errors?

The strengths of asking questions are that they are practical and can assist in knowing whether students have understood the concepts of the topic. Questions allow students to think deeper on other possibilities of handling the subject. Some of the weaknesses of using questions are that they lack validity, and that people can interpret questions differently, thus giving subjective responses. This study could be improved by making maximum use of technology, and creating an agency to check on medical errors.  


Medical administration errors have become a fundamental concern while ensuring patient safety in the healthcare environment. The alarming loss of lives due to medication errors has made patients become worried, and particularly from being given the wrong drugs. The burden of errors lies with the nurses, as most of the medication errors that are related to drug administration, which can be prevented. The environment of working can contribute to medication errors, especially when nurses are interrupted, or are given many responsibilities to handle. Communication is vital in preventing and eliminating medication administration errors. Nurses should ensure that patients understand everything that concern medication to guarantee their safety.


Anderson, P., & Townsend, T. (2010). Medication errors: Don’t let them happen to you. American Nurse Today, 5(3). Retrieved on 3 April 2015 from

Drach‐Zahavy, A., & Pud, D. (2010). Learning mechanisms to limit medication administration errors. Journal of advanced nursing, 66(4), 794-805.

Garber, J. S., Gross, M., & Slonim, A. D. (2010). Avoiding common nursing errors. Philadelphia: Wolters Kluwer Health/Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.

Karavasiliadou, S., & Athanasakis, E. (2014). An inside look into the factors contributing to medication errors in the clinical nursing practice. Health Science Journal, 8(1), 32-44.

Smeulers, M., Onderwater, A. T., Zwieten, M. B., & Vermeulen, H. (2014). Nurses’ experiences and perspectives on medication safety practices: an explorative qualitative study. Journal Of Nursing Management, 22(3), 276-285. doi:10.1111/jonm.12225

Stoppler, M. C., & Marks, J. W. (2014).The Most Common Medication Errors. Retrieved on 3 April 2015 from