Not only are Nurses expected to safely administer medication in the difficult circumstances like I described in my last Blog post, but we are required to do it alongside rapidly changing technology and pharmaceutical innovations. Technological changes are happening faster that we can keep up. Likewise, the few common medications (aspirin, anginine, asthma puffers and antibiotics) from 30+ years ago when I started Nursing, are now 100-fold and rising. It’s not possible to anticipate or control the advances in healthcare nor the impacts they have on medication administration processes and practices. However, we have a professional obligation to manage these complexities and there are expectations on us to adhere to policies and guidelines to get it right (Cloete 2017, NMBA 2016). Here’s what I say to Nursing students about the clinical contexts they will encounter. ‘Give yourself permission to go slow and pay attention. Safe medication administration does not happen in haste.’ I think its sage advice for all health professionals given our current contexts of practice.
However, I also understand the workload and time pressure challenges. They are well-researched and written about (Craig et al. 2014). I too have experienced and researched the interruptions I’ve mentioned in earlier Blogs. But, I caution that if we forfeit our principles for safe practice because of time pressure then we endanger the patient, compromise our integrity and breach our professional obligations (NMBA 2016). Why did you become a nurse? For me, it was because I wanted to help people. Sound familiar? I’m sure it does. I could be wrong, for you, it might have been the money, the prestige or the great working conditions (said with tongue in cheek 😊). As I’ve suggested in my earlier Blogs, our role as the advocate for the patient is paramount but we can’t help others if we don’t help ourselves. So, give yourself permission to administer medications with mindfulness.
In my PhD research, I observed Nurses not so much taking the time to work without haste but taking the time to ‘get it right.’ As described in my last Blog, the Nurses in my study went above and beyond to ensure that the patients received the right medication, in the right dose and form and where possible at the right time. At times they encountered several obstacles to their objective, but they carried on for the benefit of the patient. I’ve written an article about it that is available free until July 13th. The article is called ‘The safe administration of medication: Nursing behaviours beyond the five-rights.’ Please download and share it from the link below.
Can you relate to the actions of the Nurses in the article? Have you developed practice strategies for timely and safe administration of medications? If so, please share with us in the comments area of this Blog. Maybe you will read the articles I’ve attached as references. Do you want to comment about them?
I hope you enjoy reading my article and Blogs. Please share them with your colleagues if you think them worthy.
Julie Martyn PhD Senior Lecturer in Nursing, Midwifery and Paramedicine
Faculty of Science, Health, Education and Engineering USC Fraser Coast
Ph: +61 7 5456 5614
Cloete, L. (2015). “Reducing medication errors in nursing practice.” Nursing Standard 29(20): 50-59.
Craig, J., F. Clanton and M. Demeter (2014). “Reducing interruptions during medication administration: The White Vest study.” Journal of Research in Nursing 19(3): 248-261.
Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia. (2016). “Registered nurse standards for practice.” Retrieved 6 June, 2019, from http://www.nursingmidwiferyboard.gov.au/Codes-Guidelines-Statements/Professional-standards.asp