So what are the 5 rights?
First, remember that all patients should be treated equally.
All patients are entitled to receive safe and appropriate nursing care. Patients are entitled to receive care from a competent and knowledgeable nurse.
Competent and safe care includes receiving the correct medications.
It is important to follow the 5 rights of patient medication administration (now 8 rights) to keep your patient safe and prevent harm. Nursing medication errors can happen and by following these rights you can help to avoid these errors.
It is important for every nurse to be knowledgeable about the medication being given to the patient. It is not possible for every nurse to know the drug facts on every drug. To be a safe and competent nurse it is important to look up drug information that you are unfamiliar with before you give the medication to the patient. The patient has the right to information on the medication, the right to receive the correct medication, and the right to have a nurse knowledge in the medication they are providing.
By looking up information before giving the medication you are confirming the patient is receiving an appropriate drug at the appropriate dose and any anticipated side effects. If the dosing calculations do not apply to the patient (such as a pediatric patient dosing as an adult) call the physician to clarify. As a nurse if you give the medication to the patient in the incorrect dose you can be held responsible for any adverse reactions even if you followed the doctors order.
There are many published nursing drug guides and online resources to obtain this information. More information on nursing drug guides is available here.
Follow these guidelines medication administration every time you pass out your patient medications to show that you are a knowledgeable and caring nurse. By attempting to avoid medication errors you are putting your patient's safety first and patient safety is a top priority in nursing.
There is an excellent article on American Nurse Today by Pamela Anderson and Terri Townsend called Medication errors: Don't let them happen to you. This is a great article, I highly recommend everyone read the free article. 1.6 nursing contact hours are available for $15-20 depending on your membership status with the American Nurses Association. The course is available until 9/30/14.