Over 80% of assisted living residents require assistance with medications, and research suggests that error rates could be as high as 35%. This stresses the importance of monitoring medication errors in your own community.
For the next few weeks Tuesday Tip will be diving deeper into the monitoring and management of medication errors, starting this week with defining what constitutes a “medication error.” In order to effectively monitor-and hopefully reduce-medication errors, everyone in your community must be on the same page regarding what a medication error is.
There are a few approaches to this. One definition is that a medication error is any violation of the “six rights.” Under this definition, an error would include:
- Giving a medication to the wrong resident
- Giving the wrong medication
- Giving the wrong dose
- Giving a medication at the wrong time
- Giving a medication by the wrong route, and
- Not completing the correct documentation
The National Coordinating Council for Medication Error Reporting and Prevention has a more broad definition:
“A medication error is any preventable event that may cause or lead to inappropriate medication use or patient harm while the medication is in the control of the health care professional, patient, or consumer. Such events may be related to professional practice, health care products, procedures, and systems, including prescribing; order communication; product labeling, packaging, and nomenclature; compounding; dispensing; distribution; administration; education; monitoring; and use.”
It is also prudent to review your state assisted living regulation for a definition of medication errors. Whatever definition you choose to work from, the key point is to have a clear definition of medication errors in your community that is understood by all appropriate staff members.
Next week we will explore medication error reporting.