Wouldn’t it be ideal if nurses had all the time and resources needed to manage medication administration safely? The question is far fetched, I know. However, the idea is an expectation from patients and the requirement of health services.

BUT, in most situations, straightforward practice from prescription to the patient is a fantasy. For example, some research says that most medication errors occur at the prescribing phase. If that is the case, then the administering nurse is set up from the start as the sentinel of medication safety.

There’s a mountain of media and research describing nurse’s mistakes and how medication errors harm patients. There’s a bucket load of funding spent on telling us what we do wrong and the ‘rights of safe medication administration’, but there’s little written about the crucial role we play. What we do to get it right in the face of the challenges and obstacles concealed in inpatient environments is rarely noticed. I want to change this situation and share my understanding of nursing practice through an appreciation of our stance with patients. The intimate relationship between nurses and patients is a privileged position from which to explore improvements for practice.

My name is Julie Martyn. I’m a registered nurse. I’ve worked in acute care inpatient settings like medical, surgical, emergency and intensive care units. I’ve also worked in a residential aged care environment. I’ve been a nurse and medical educator and a lecturer in the university. I’m passionate about nursing practice. The safety role that nurses have in managing medication administration is my focus.

I’ve started this blog in the hope that nurses and others who administer medication will raise their voice and share what we know about the practice that is otherwise not known. That is, because when we get it right no one cares, but when we get it wrong everyone wants to know. Let’s contemplate the difference it would make if we celebrated our successes. If we researched what worked – If we designed policy, process and practice based on evidence from every-day positive practices rather than those unexpected attention-grabbing error events. We know how to be experts at medication safety. The problem is that because medication safety principles are embedded in everyday nursing practice, some facilitating features are hidden. Exposing the valuable aspects of practice will help to build better evidence for practice. I hope you find my musings about medication management interesting. Please join the conversation using the comments area below.

My research was with regional Australian registered nurses who administered medication throughout their shift in various wards. We acknowledged that limited time and resources interfere with best practice, but we highlighted person-centred strategies for the safety of the patient. My PhD was called ‘An appreciative inquiry into medication administration by registered nurses: The untold story.’ I’ve published a paper from it, and the publisher has kindly offered the paper for free download until January 21st, 2019. Use this link for your free copy of my first PhD journal article.


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Julie Martyn PhD