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Five rights for avoiding medication errors

Nurses in Oklahoma who are concerned about giving medication to patients safely can follow what is known as the five rights. These are the things that should be confirmed before medication is administered.

The first is the patient's identity. A name, identification number or date of birth can all be used to confirm that the patient is the one to whom the medication should be administered. Next, it is important to confirm that the medication is correct. Nurses should be careful about medications with similar names.

Making sure the dosage is correct is also important. This means not only confirming what the amount is but checking that it is a safe dosage. Nurses should then note the method of administration. This may be oral, intravenous, or by some other route, and it should be appropriate for both the patient and the type of medication. Finally, nurses should check how often the medication should be administered and when it was last given.

Some people say there is a sixth right, and that is documenting things carefully. All of these steps are crucial because giving the wrong medication can be catastrophic. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 700,000 people visit emergency rooms each year for incidents related to medication usage. In some cases, errors may be fatal.

A patient who has suffered from a medication error may want to consult an attorney about whether medical malpractice has occurred and whether filing a lawsuit is an appropriate response. An attorney can provide advice regarding the type of documentation needed and the best strategy for moving forward with a lawsuit.

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