The three leading sources of medication errors are communication, training, and patient assessment, according to the Joint Commission.
Some hospitalized persons, such as infants and the critically ill, cannot speak for themselves and may not have anyone available to speak for them, making identification and communication difficult.
Using two or more methods to identify the right patient during medication administration is, therefore, necessary as a check point in the process of medication delivery.
In addition, the other four of the five “Rights” of medication administration should always be double checked. These include:
- right medication
- right dose
- right time
- right route (oral, injected, intravenous (IV), topical/skin, or through another route)
The process for medication administration is complex, and risk for error increases with each additional medication that is delivered when fail-safe processes and training are not implemented.
Two standard fail-safe methods for identifying the “right patient” are:
- checking the patient’s armband to ensure that it matches the medication administration record
- asking the patient or family member for verification