Medication Errors and
How to Avoid Them

Learning Objectives

  1. Identify following sources of error and describe the steps you would take to avoid them:
  1. Name "5 rights" of drug administration.

  2. List two cardinal rules for administering insulin.

  3. Explain the importance of not leaving substances at a patient's bedside without clear instructions.

  4. Take appropriate action with the drug manufacturer when you see a misleading package label.

  5. Differentiate between the workings of volumetric and nonvolumetric infusion controllers.

  6. Take proper steps to avoid errors in the administration of cancer drugs.

  7. List the three different times when the drug label should be checked.

  8. Describe what a nurse should do when seeing an unclear order.

  9. Explain why metric is a better system to use.

  10. Explain the pitfalls of relying on only one health professional to interpret a drug order.

  11. Explain how one can avoid an error that can occur by injecting medication into the wrong catheter tube.

  12. Follow the proper procedure to avoid complications arising from administering inappropriate dosage of analgesics to patients recovering from anesthetics.

  13. Stress the importance of checking the MAR before giving a drug.

  14. Explain how an order that calls for two tablets should be transcribed in three separate lines.


Evaluation of Individual Objectives

To assess the effectiveness of the course material, we ask that you evaluate your achievement of each learning objective on a scale of A to D (A=excellent, B=good, C=fair, D=unsatisfactory). Please indicate your responses next to each learning objective and return it to us with your completed exam.


Medical Errors

Course Outline

Chapter 1. Medical Errors: The Scope of the Problem

An Epidemic of Errors

Where Errors Occur


Not a New Issue

Public Fears

Itís a Systems Problem

Types of Errors

Preventing Errors

Five Steps to Safer Health Care

Chapter 2. 20 Tips to Help Prevent Medical Errors

What Are Medical Errors

What Can You Do? Be Involved in Your Health Care


Hospital Stays


Other Steps You Can Take

Ways You Can Help Your Family Prevent Medical Errors!

What Are Medical Errors?

What Can You Do?

Chapter 3. Helpful Hints for Preventing Medical Errors

The Problem

Prevention Tips

Ways to Minimize Errors

Thorough and Credible Root Cause Analysis

Common Error Types and "High-Alert" Medications

Target Drugs

Target Procedures

Points in the Process Where Errors Can Occur

Resources at Glance

Chapter 4. Improving Medication Safety


Common Sources of Error

Steps for Improving Medication Safety

Our Sources


Patient Information Brochures

Information on Safe Medication Practices

Successful Practices for Improving Medication Safety

Easily Implemented Changes (Process Design)

Longer-Term Changes (Systems Redesign)

Chapter 5. Reducing Errors in Health Care

Patients at Risk

How Errors Occur

Medication Errors

Surgical Errors

Diagnostic Inaccuracies

System Failures

Improving Patient Safety

Computerized ADE Monitoring

Computer-Generated Reminders for Followup Testing

Standardized Protocols

Promoting Safety


Recommendations for Identifying and Learning From Errors in Pediatrics

Chapter 6. Root Cause Analysis


Practice Description

Prevalence and Severity of the Target Safety Problem

Opportunities for Impact

Study Designs

Study Outcomes

Evidence for Effectiveness of the Practice

Potential for Harm

Costs and Implementation




Chapter 7. Fatigue, Sleepiness, and Medical Errors



Sleep Deprivation

Night Shifts and Shift Rotation

Prevalence and Severity

Practice Descriptions

Hours of Service

Direction and Speed of Rotation of Shift Work

Improving Sleep: Education About Sleep Hygiene

Lighting at Work


Medical Therapies



Chapter 8. Mental Health Professionals

The Duty to Protect

Child Abuse and Neglect


 "Great course!" - J.B., LMHC, FL




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