Medical Errors

Course Outline

Chapter 1: Medical Errors: The Scope of the Problem

  1. Describe the scope of the medical errors problems and cite statistics showing public concern about the quality of health care.
  2. Define and identify various types of medical errors.
  3. List five steps a patient can take for safer health care.

Chapter 2: 20 Tips to Help Prevent Medical Errors

  1. Describe what a patient can do to avoid medical errors.

Chapter 3: Helpful Hints for Preventing Medication Errors

  1. Identify 4 ways to minimize errors.
  2. Make a list of “high-alert” medications.
  3. List and review target procedures commonly associated with medication errors.

Chapter 4: Improving Medication Safety

  1. Identify 10 common sources of error.
  2. Describe successful practices for improving medication safety.

Chapter 5: Reducing Errors in Health Care

  1. Describe how errors occur in health-care delivery steps.
  2. Describe various measures that can be taken to improve patient safety.
  3. Implement recommendations for identifying and learning from errors in pediatrics.

Chapter 6: Root Cause Analysis

  1. Describe the application of root cause analysis in medicine and outline its significant methodological limitations.

Chapter 7: Fatigue, Sleepiness, and Medical Errors

  1. Explain the effects of sleep debt.
  2. Explain the deleterious effect of night shifts and shift rotation on performance.
  3. Recite studies that have documented the impact of fatigue on medical personnel performance.
  4. Describe the impact of direction and speed of rotation of shift work on worker fatigue.

Learning Objectives

  1. Identify following sources of error and describe the steps you would take to avoid them:
    • Abbreviation
    • Administration complication
    • Administration route mix-up
    • Allergic reaction
    • Documentation problem
    • Dosage error
    • Drug name confusion
    • Drug preparation problem
    • Equipment misuse
    • Infusion misuse
    • Insulin error
    • I.V. therapy mistake
    • Label confusion
    • MAR misuse
    • Order misunderstanding
    • Patient name mix-up
    • Patient-teaching failure
    • Protocol violation
    • Storage problem
    • Symbol misinterpretation
    • Syringe and Tubex problem
    • Telephone miscommunication
    • Transcription error
    • Unfamiliarity and carelessness
    • Verification failure
  2. Name “5 rights” of drug administration.
  3. List two cardinal rules for administering insulin.
  4. Explain the importance of not leaving substances at a patient’s bedside without clear instructions.
  5. Take appropriate action with the drug manufacturer when you see a misleading package label.
  6. Differentiate between the workings of volumetric and non-volumetric infusion controllers.
  7. Take proper steps to avoid errors in the administration of cancer drugs.
  8. List the three different times when the drug label should be checked.
  9. Describe what a nurse should do when seeing an unclear order.
  10. Explain why metric is a better system to use.
  11. Explain the pitfalls of relying on only one health professional to interpret a drug order.
  12. Explain how one can avoid an error that can occur by injecting medication into the wrong catheter tube.
  13. Follow the proper procedure to avoid complications arising from administering inappropriate dosage of analgesics to patients recovering from anesthetics.
  14. Stress the importance of checking the MAR before giving a drug.
  15. Explain how an order that calls for two tablets should be transcribed in three separate lines.


“Great course!” – J.B., LMHC, FL