3. How do I avoid medication errors?
There are a bazillion suggestions that can help you administer your medications quickly, efficiently, effectively and safely. In my opinion, they all have their place, but the single most important thing you need to worry about is safety.
Safety first, safety last.
There are many studies out there indicating that most medication errors (for any health care professional delivering medications – not just nurses) happen during the preparation phase of administration. This is when you are separating, verifying and confirming that what you plan on delivering is what is in front of you. This is when you put that safety checklist into action.
Of course we ALL know about the five rights (some schools of thought use seven – and I’ve read up to 10) of safe medication administration. Back in my day it was five. I can only assume these rights have been burned into your brain:
The right patient
The right drug
The right dose
The right route
The right time
(The right reason)
(The right documentation)
(The right to refuse)
(The right patient education)
(The right evaluation)
All are extremely important, but none of it matters if you are distracted during the preparation stage. Do not allow a fellow coworker, staff member, physician, family member, patient or any other individual interrupt you during the preparation phase. Eliminate all distractions. This includes answering phone calls, as well as texting on your personal cell phone!
Here is my most important tip: ELIMINATE DISTRACTIONS DURING MEDICATION PREPARATION.
If you get distracted, sooner or later you’ll make a mistake.
4. 5 tips for assessing patients
Most nurses take assessing patients for granted. We think that if we just follow the PQRST, we will be good. Well, for the most part this may be correct but here are some tips to help you always perform your best, top notch assessments.
1. Begin with the basics and when trouble starts, always start with the ABC’s again. Airway, breathing, circulation.
2. If your patient is altered, check the oxygen and the glucose.
3. Always use a system when assessing your patients. Always. The day you deviate from your routine is the day you miss something really, really important.
4. As soon as you take report on a patient, check the ID band, the fluids, the IV, etc. When your name goes on the patient, now everything is your responsibility. When possible, give report at the bedside so you can avoid these things.
5. When at a loss for words, ask the patient, “Tell me more about that.” Open-ended questions are SO helpful in getting the most out of your patient.
5. What’s the best method of using a pre-filled syringe?
Be sure to remove the cap and then retract the plunger on the syringe (as if you are aspirating) BEFORE you depress the plunger. There’s compressed air hidden in the needle-less leur-lock. If you depress the syringe first after the initial removal of the cap you will squirt saline like a laser in whatever direction you are pointing (there are numerous ceiling tiles at every hospital that can corroborate this story)!
6. How do I get pen marks off of scrubs?
Alcohol pads can remove pen mark stains and streaks in scrubs. You may need to use a little elbow grease but they’ll do the job if you’re at work and need a quick fix! If you’re prone to using the back of your hand as a portable notepad during the day, these handy pads can also remove ink and most markers from your skin, too.
A bonus tip: For some strange reason an alcohol pad placed on the bridge of the nose seems to slow down or even stave off nausea. This only works sometimes, but when it does, it’s pretty darn cool and useful as a temporary solution until you can retrieve an anti-emetic.