Medication administration staff are well-versed in the “6 Rights” of accurate medication administration:

  1. Right Resident
  2. Right Medication
  3. Right Dose
  4. Right Route
  5. Right Time
  6. Right Documentation

While these “6 Rights” form the foundation of safe medication practices, it is essential to implement additional strategies to ensure the correct and safe administration of resident medications. By incorporating the following three primary strategies, we can further protect residents from medication errors:

  1. Minimize Distractions During Medication Administration:

One of the most common reasons for medication errors is distractions during the medication administration process. Staff can be interrupted by resident requests, staff needing assistance, or phone calls, diverting their attention from the critical task of verifying the “6 Rights.” To address this, it is crucial to educate staff on the importance of uninterrupted medication administration. Unless the situation is urgent, questions and phone calls should be deferred until after the med pass is completed. Additionally, staff should be vigilant in responding to resident call lights and requests promptly, making timely interventions a standard of care.

  1. Conduct Routine Medication Pass Observations:

Regular medication pass observations are a significant step in preventing medication errors. Integrating these observations into the orientation process and including them in annual staff performance evaluations provides valuable insights for the facility’s QAPI program. Furthermore, conducting random medication pass observations keeps staff comfortable with being observed and facilitates early identification of any issues that need to be addressed. An effective tool for these observations is the CMS Critical Element Pathway (CEP) #20056 “Medication Administration Observation,” which outlines specific components of safe and accurate medication administration.

  1. Perform Audits of Medication Rooms and Med Carts:

Conducting audits of medication rooms and med carts is another critical QAPI function to prevent medication errors. Frequent reviews of these storage areas help identify and eliminate factors contributing to medication errors. Some of the factors include checking expiration and “Open” dates, ensuring proper storage of oral medications separate from topical ones, verifying correct medication labeling, and ensuring cleanliness in these areas. The CMS Critical Element Pathway #20089 “Medication Storage” is a valuable resource to guide these audits effectively.

Incorporating these strategies alongside the “6 Rights” of medication administration can significantly enhance medication error prevention in healthcare facilities.

Contact Proactive for QAPI support and to schedule a mock survey. Over ½ of all facilities partnering with Proactive for a mock survey in 2022 were deficiency free on their annual survey!

Written By: Janine Lehman, RN, RAC-CT, CLNC
Director of Legal Nurse Consulting

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