The Seven Rights of Medication Administration

The Seven Rights of Medication Administration

Preventing medication errors is always a high priority. One-third of harmful medication errors occur during medication preparation or administration\(^1\). To help prevent these errors, you should always follow the seven ‘rights’ of medication administration.

1. Right Medication

Ensuring the correct medication is crucial during both medication preparation and administration. It is essential to be vigilant about medications that may look or sound alike, as they can lead to confusion and administration of the wrong drug. Healthcare professionals should exercise extra caution when dealing with such drugs and implement strategies to differentiate them clearly. This may include using barcode scanning systems or employing visual aids, such as color-coded labels or tall-man lettering to distinguish similar drug names.

2. Right Patient

Administering medications to the right patient is paramount. Patient identification should be verified using two forms of identification, such as asking the patient to state their name and date of birth while cross-referencing this information with the patient’s armband. This process helps prevent medication errors that could occur if a medication were administered to the wrong patient, particularly in a busy and fast-paced clinical environment.

3. Right Dosage

Diluting concentrated drugs or splitting/combining pills should be done with precision and attention to detail. Healthcare professionals should use proper measuring tools, such as calibrated syringes or devices, to ensure accurate dosing. Additionally, double-checking calculations and involving another qualified colleague for confirmation can be beneficial, especially for high-risk medications.

4. Right Route

Some drugs can only be given orally or intravenously, while others may have specific requirements, such as being administered via a central line due to causticity. It is essential to confirm that the route specified in the medication order aligns with the appropriate route for that medication. This can help prevent adverse reactions or ineffective treatments.

5. Right Time

Timing is crucial for medications, as some drugs must be taken with food, without food, or at specific intervals. Adhering to the prescribed schedule is vital for the drug’s effectiveness and patient safety. Many healthcare facilities consider a medication as being administered on time if it is given within 30 minutes of the prescribed time. This grace period allows for practicality while ensuring the drug remains effective..

6. Right Reason

While physicians typically order medications based on a patient’s condition or medical needs, healthcare professionals should perform their own assessment before administration to ensure the medication is appropriate for the specific patient. Factors such as allergies, drug interactions, and the patient’s overall health status should be considered. If any concerns arise, it is essential to consult with the care team before proceeding with medication administration.

7. Right Documentation

After giving the medication, it is imperative to document the time of administration and the dosage administered. This documentation helps subsequent care providers understand precisely what medication was given and when. In the event of atypical reactions or adverse effects, this information is crucial for the care team to make informed decisions about the patient’s treatment plan.

Always Put Safety First

In conclusion, following the seven ‘rights’ of medication administration is essential for preventing medication errors and ensuring patient safety. By diligently adhering to these principles and implementing safety measures, healthcare professionals can significantly reduce the risk of harmful medication errors and enhance the overall quality of patient care. Continuous education, communication among healthcare providers, and the use of technology to support these efforts can further bolster medication safety initiatives in clinical settings.

\(^1\)Smeulers M, Verweij L, Maaskant JM, et al. Quality indicators for safe medication preparation and administration: a systematic review. PLoS One. 2015;10(4):e0122695. Published 2015 Apr 17. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0122695

Seven Rights of Medication Administration

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