Nurses must ascertain the legal requirements of the prescription before administering any medication. The framework offered by national standards and policies enables nurses to ensure the accuracy of drug prescriptions and dispensation before administration. The Nursing & Midwifery Council (NMC) code of 2018 governs how nurses can prescribe drugs. This code states that registrants are limited in their ability to prescribe medications under UK law to the extent of their training.
Registrants must ensure that prescription drugs are administered according to the manufacturer’s instructions. If appropriate, hospital pharmacists should provide advice and direction on prescription formulations, such as liquid preparations for certain tablets. Before administering and dispensing a recommended medication, a nurse should consider the patient’s health. For instance, nurses should get guidance when a patient’s vital signs or medical condition makes the recommended drug contraindicated. The “5 rights rule,” which guarantees that prescription pharmaceuticals are provided safely and correctly and that any necessary changes are appropriately identified, is outlined in the registrant’s responsibility under the NMC. According to the “5 rights rule”, suitable patients must receive the right treatments at the right time in the appropriate dosages and via the convenient routes. According to the National Institute of Health and Care Excellence (NICE) recommendations, registrants must verify that the prescriptions and labels on the containers are legibly written. If there are any questions, registrants should ask the prescribing medical care practitioner for clarification.
Most medications take the form of tablets or liquids. Medication errors are an issue in the medical industry and are caused by the broad variation in drug formulations. People may decide to self-medicate and give themselves the incorrect medications, or medical professionals may give them the wrong medicine. Every year, 7,000–9,000 people in the US die because of drug errors, with the majority failing to disclose any unexpected side effects. This demonstrates that drug mistakes are a significant problem worldwide. Medication errors are preventable incidents that might result in the wrong administration of pharmaceuticals or patient harm when administered by patients, consumers, or healthcare professionals. The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency regulates medicines, medical devices and blood components for transfusion in the UK.
Medication errors can be attributed to human factors such as excessive workload, emotional stress, demotivation, and missed patient information. The primary approach for dealing with drug mistakes is the “nursing intellectual capital theory”. This hypothesis concerns the nurses’ intellectual capacity. As a result, when paired with nursing structural capital, support for professional progress from employers and nursing personnel fosters nursing human capital, which addresses human aspects to achieve desired health outcomes. According to a study conducted in North England, distractions and interruptions from people were the leading causes of drug errors in two hospitals. Prescribers must prioritise and manage their workload while dealing with constant interruptions due to the high standards they must meet. Prescribers must manage their assigned responsibilities while caring for many patients in a single shift. Delegating the administration of medications to co-workers is one method for controlling these issues.
With all the literature that I may read and the safe medication practice tests I may take, I am still anxious; my imposter syndrome further enhances it. Why should I be trusted with such a responsibility when I feel that I do not understand the medication well enough and cannot even pronounce the drug’s name? I received reassurance that I was doing fine during the assessment. Additionally, any potential errors were pointed up in a way that encouraged me to do things correctly from the start rather than having to repair them afterwards. I passed the assessment.
Also, currently in the media, a nurse in America was charged with administering the wrong medication. A registered nurse would be responsible for the safe and effective administration of pharmaceuticals, even if they were prescribed by a doctor or dispensed by a pharmacist. As a nursing student, I am responsible for this and must train to become proficient. As a nurse, you must act professionally at all times. Tasks include preparing, reviewing, and dispensing medications; staying up to date on prescription information; determining whether or not a treatment is effective; documenting any adverse reactions to a drug; and educating patients. Students also have responsibilities; if I ever thought I lacked the knowledge or skills to administer a prescription properly, I was allowed to speak up and tell the registered nurses so I could study them and learn from their experiences. All this information puts extra pressure on me to get it right so that the patient is safe and I am not liable for any wrongdoing. However, is it normal to be this way? I am not sure, but I am open to discussing it more.
It’s essential that we nurses should reflect on clinical practice. I started on a low-level practice and could not administer oral medications because of nervousness. Upon reflecting on various experiences, I knew it was my significant role to be brave, create rapport with patients, and attend to them whenever needed. Our most significant role as nurses is to double-check the prescriptions before administering them. As patients’ advocates, we should only comply with some prescriptions from pharmacists or doctors; instead, we should question any wrong medication before we dispense it. One of the critical goals of the NHS is to improve patient care; hence the NHS must adopt mechanisms in which all healthcare professionals may reflect on their practice to better patient care.
Soneika Atkinson is a second-year student mental health nurse at the University of Essex. You can connect with her on Twitter @sunnyandKK.