Nurses and medical aides working at residential facilities have a lot of responsibility. Whether they work at an inpatient cancer ward at the local hospital or a nursing home, their actions have a direct impact on the quality of life of the patients and residents under their care.
One of the more important responsibilities that nurses fulfill is the responsibility to administer medications to patients. Unfortunately, nurses can make mistakes and hand out the wrong drugs to the wrong people, which can have catastrophic consequences. Distraction is a leading cause of such mistakes.
There are two major contributing factors to the distraction that can lead to drug administration mistakes by nurses.
Social media and mobile phones
No one is immune to the powerful compulsion to respond immediately to notifications from a phone. Especially when nurses work long, dull shifts, their phones may help them remain connected to their friends and family.
Unfortunately, researchers have found that social media and phone use during a shift can lead to possibly serious medication mistakes by a nurse and tragic consequences for the patient affected.
Understaffing and needy patients
Some facilities, like for-profit nursing homes, only keep the minimum number of staff on hand required by law based on the number of occupied beds at the facility. Other medical facilities may have better staffing practices but will have workers call out sick unexpectedly, possibly more than one at once.
Understaffing can lead to nurses juggling too many responsibilities at once and making preventable mistakes.
Demanding patients on their own or in combination with understaffing can exacerbate that risk. If a patient or a visitor corners a nurse while they attempt to distribute drugs and asks many questions or starts giving a long explanation of an issue, the nurse could make a mistake because of the obligation to split their attention between the safe distribution of the drugs and the individual who just approached them.
It only takes a few moments of distraction to lead to drug administration mistakes that could cause dangerous interactions or could reduce the efficacy of a patient’s treatment. Fighting back when medication errors hurt your health may compensate you and also prompt changes at the medical facility in question.