When your doctor told you that you would need surgery to help resolve a current health problem, you might have felt both relieved to know there was a solution and worried about the upcoming procedure at the same time. There are always inherent risks involved with any type of surgery. You may also be at risk for injury during recovery, especially if a nurse assigned to your care makes a medication error.
You have a right to reasonably expect that your entire medical team will adhere to state laws and accepted safety standards while helping you recover from surgery or treating you upon admission to the hospital when suffering from an illness or injury. In short, nurses are supposed to help you get better, not make your condition worse.
The 5 Rs help keep you safe
When a nurse brings you a dose of medication, he or she is supposed to have first gone through a checklist of precautions to ensure your safety. The following list shows safety measures that medical professionals commonly refer to as “The 5 Rs”:
- Your nurse must make sure you are the right patient scheduled to receive the medication he or she has brought to the bedside.
- It’s not enough to confirm that you are supposed to take medication, as your nurse must also make sure you are supposed to receive the exact drug he or she is about to administer.
- Nurses must be diligent and cautious to ensure that you are getting the right dosage of a specific medication.
- The fourth R refers to timing, as many drugs can only be given within a certain number of hours, and doctors sometimes prescribe certain medications to be given at specific times as well.
- Finally, your nurse should confirm the right route before administering medication to you, meaning whether you should receive it topically, orally or by injection.
If you’re scheduled to receive a particularly high-risk medication, the medical industry then recommends that your nurse should perform an independent double-check of the 5Rs and other known measures available to ensure your safety and avoid potentially disastrous medication errors.
Your medical records help reduce the risk of error
If you’re allergic to a specific drug and your nurse fails to review your medical records before administering a medication, it places you at high-risk for injury. The same goes for contraindication issues, especially concerning two or more drugs that are not compatible. As a patient with no licensed medical background, you’re not responsible for knowing such things, but those to whom you’ve entrusted your care understand how important it is to make sure they are providing safe and quality care.
Medical malpractice often results in dangerous medication errors
Medication mistakes can be life-threatening, especially if a nurse administers a drug that is listed as an allergen in your medical records. Other errors as well, such as an overdose, incorrect drugs being provided, a wrong patient treated for another’s issue, or incompatibility with another medication you’re currently taking may cause severe injury or, in some cases, death.
Patients who have survived medication errors caused by nursing negligence often seek accountability against those responsible for their injuries by filing medical malpractice claims in civil court.