Preventing Medical Errors

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Medical errors are responsible for approximately over 200000 deaths annually in the most parts of the world e.g. in the United States according to the study by Johns Hopkins, the statistics have proven that in 2016, the medical error was the third leading cause of death with approximately claiming about 240000 lives. Much of these medical error revolves around documentation & equipment, administering medication, patients fall and infections. In the health facilities, the nurse usually plays a very crucial and significant role in patient care, thus control of the medical error is one of the forefronts of duty of a nurse's daily clinical practice. 

However, according to Leonard & Bonacum (2014), these medical errors can be prevented through the taking care of the following techniques; Practicing good and effective nurse communication skills. A nurse should possess active listening, verbal and written communication skills. Health facilities should as well install and make good use of the electronic health records (EHR) systems more interoperable. This electronic system enables proper sharing of the patient’s health historical record from one medical practitioner to the other without necessarily having the doctors going around with the patient. This technique helps in improving the quality of the health information from the patient and sharing it with the relevant department within the hospitals to avoid misdiagnosis hence proper medication.

Ensuring and maintaining adequate staffing. The nurse-to-patient ratios is a very crucial tool in preventing medical error since when nurses have too many patients to serve, there is a possibility of documents getting misplaced or lost and medical errors occur more easily. This is the technique that guides the handoff efficiency since one of the biggest contributors to the serious medical error is the miscommunication during the changing of shifts by the staff. The period taken by the doctors in handing over the duty and patient information should be as efficient and smooth as possible. Limiting the overtime for the nurse to ensure that each and every nurse gets enough resting period to avoid tiredness, fatigue, and inability to concentrate in the daily clinical duty. This technique provides for a better way of fighting off the nurse boredom at work and as such it's a self-care technique and enables partner accountability.

Clarify orders by getting the pharmacists involved more directly in the patient treatment mix. Most of the mistakes that involve medication are commonly made as a result of ordering the wrong dosage for the patient. The pharmacists are usually out of the patient treatment mix thus they rarely get the direct information on how various drugs may have adverse effects on the patient's condition and which ones they should prescribe instead. Clarification of orders helps in preventing medical errors and also saves the life. It is everyone's duty to prevent medical error, never guess or fill the blanks medical practitioners should ensure that they get clear, correct and precise information before giving the medical prescription. Nurses should avoid or limit unwritten orders whenever possible. According to the Kathleen R., nurses should embrace evidence-based practices in delivering services to avoid medical errors (Barker, 2012)

However, if the above-discussed techniques fail to work, the adoption of the combination of the teamwork among the staff and safety culture is the best way to prevent medical error.


Barker, K. N., Flynn, E. A., Pepper, G. A., Bates, D. W., & Mikeal, R. L. (2012). Medication errors observed in 36 healthcare facilities. Archives of internal medicine, 162(16), 1897-1903.

Leonard, M., & Bonacum, D. (2014). The human factor: the critical importance of effective teamwork and communication in providing safe care. BMJ Quality & Safety, 13(suppl 1), i85-i90.

October 24, 2023

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