Most Medication Errors Involve Cardiovascular Drugs

pills-1885550_1920-300x225The results of a new study that specifically focused on registered nurses found that the most common types of drugs associated with medication errors by registered nurses, were cardiovascular drugs.

The study which is due to be published soon in the journal Applied Nursing Research, found that among the cardiovascular drugs analyzed in the study, most of the medication errors involved anticoagulants. While approximately 22.7% of medication errors involved cardiovascular drugs, 11.3% of those errors were associated with anticoagulants.

In the study, the researchers found antimicrobial drugs accounted for approximately 19.1% of the errors, while electrolytes accounted for about 11% of the errors, and both endocrine drugs and analgesics accounted for 8.8% of the errors recorded. Among the antimicrobial drugs, vancomycin was most susceptible to medical error, with an error rate of 6.1%. Among the cardiovascular drugs most susceptible to medication errors were heparin, warfarin, and enoxaparin.   

Medical-surgical units seemed to the most frequent venue for such errors with an error rate of 35%, followed by intensive care units which accounted for approximately 14.7% of the registered nurse medication errors, and intermediate care which accounted for 13.3% of the errors.

The researchers speculate that cardiovascular drugs are so susceptible to errors because of their complicated dosing instructions and the need to use testing in order to calibrate doses. Besides, patients who are being administered cardiovascular drugs like heparin or other anticoagulants must be frequently monitored for any signs of bleeding and other complications arising from the use of these drugs, allowing a window of opportunity for errors to creep in.

The study focused on registered nurses because as the researchers call them, they are the “last line of defense” against medication errors, and also because they are responsible for the bulk of all administration and monitoring of drugs in a hospital system. Better care and precautions taken by registered nurses could significantly reduce the number of medication errors that cause patients harm. Many medication errors that occur in American hospitals every year do not result in long-term patient harm. However, in the study, the researchers found that about 10% of the medication errors analyzed as part of the study caused some degree of patient harm.

The researchers also confirm that the risk of such registered nurse medication errors can be reduced through consistent education and training programs for nurses, especially the use of simulation-based training, better training in pharmacology and specially focused training for registered nurses in the use of anti-coagulation drugs.  

Medication errors in the form of wrong medications administered, wrong dosage, or wrong route of administration can cause tremendous patient harm, and possibly long-term complications. If your loved one has suffered an injury in the hospital as a result of a medication error, you may have legal grounds for a medical malpractice claim to help you recover damages for your losses. Speak with an Indiana medical malpractice attorney at Montross Miller Muller Mendelson & Kennedy, LLP and discuss your case. Call our office for a free initial consultation.