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An overwhelming majority of nurses in the USA (97%) worry about medication errors, and more than two-thirds (68%) believe medication errors can be reduced with more consistent syringe labelling, research has found.
The findings of the 2007 Study of Injectable Medication Errors were announced today by the American Nurses Association (ANA), the professional organisation representing the USA’s 2.9 million registered nurses. The nationwide online survey of 1,039 nurses was developed and co-sponsored by ANA and medical device firm Inviro. It aimed to capture opinions, concerns and experiences about challenges related to labelling on syringes.
When asked about the point in the process at which medication errors are most likely to occur, most nurses say either during the preparation and administering of medications to patients (48%) or during transcription of the initial order (47%).
To help reduce injectable medication errors, the vast majority of nurses (81%) believe their healthcare institution should ensure sufficient staff are available for timely and efficient administration.
Nurses indicate that the factors most commonly contributing to injectable medication errors are: a too rushed or busy environment (78%); poor or illegible handwriting (68%); missed or mistaken doctor’s orders (62%), similar drug names or medication appearance (56%); and working with too many medications (60%).
Nearly half of nurses (44%) say they inject medicine via a syringe more than five times per shift, and more than one-third (37%) administer injectable medication at least once per shift.
Slightly more than one-third (37%) of nurses claim injectable medications are always labelled. However, this study identified that as many as 28% of nurses nationwide do not label syringes when using them. The 72% who do label syringes do so by writing on self-adhesive labels then applying to it to the syringe (54%); writing on pieces of tape and adhering to syringe (31%); using Sharpie® and writing directly on syringe (11%); and writing on paper or sticky note and taping to syringe (4%).
Challenges often arise when attempting to label a syringe. Labels covering measurement gradations on the syringe barrel pose the greatest problem (65%). Fifty-five percent of nurses consider the absence of a suitable label poses the greatest challenge, while 39% think a label impairs their ability to accurately check the dosage when comparing it to the order.
When nurses were asked their opinions about a write-on stripe manufactured on the syringe, the vast majority (95%) believe the greatest benefit is the fact that it would not interfere with visibility of the syringe content or gradations on the syringe barrel. Ninety-three percent believe it will reduce the risk of error.