- The Right Patient. Ensure that you are giving the drug to the right patient. How do you do this? You can ask the patient to state his or her name and check the ID bracelet. In cases wherein no ID bracelet is attached or the patient is not able to state his name, withhold the medication until positive identification is established. Once the patient has been positively identified, check if the patient's name matched the name on the medication order.
- The Right Drug. When giving medications, make sure you are giving the right drug. Be very careful when reading medication orders because the most common factors contributing to medication errors are poorly-written medication orders and look-and-sound alike drugs. To ensure that the drug you are about to administer is the right drug, always check the generic and brand name of the drug. Also check if the drug matches the patient condition. For example, an anticonvulsant has been prescribed to a patient admitted due to fungal infection, then by all means withhold the medication and clarify the order with the prescriber. Furthermore, if the drug to be administered requires preparation, make sure it has been prepared correctly.
- The Right Dose. Make sure that the dose has been interpreted and calculated correctly. Take into account the age, weight, and kindney and liver function of the patient. Also check if you correctly interpreted the abbreviations used by the prescriber.
- The Right Route. You might have heard of cases wherein Potassium Chloride has been inadvertently administered to a patient via IV bolus resulting to cardiac arrest and death. Scary, right? To avoid route-related medication errors, make sure that the route ordered is the route being used. Of equal importance is to check if the route is appropriate for the patient and that the correct administration technique is being used.
- The Right Time. Before administering any drug, it is important to check if the drug is being administered at the right time. Take note if the frequency ordered by the prescriber has been interpreted correctly. It is also very prudent to check any possible food and drug interactions before drug administration.
Taking into account the '5 Rights' of Drug Administration will help the student nurse avoid medication errors and ensure patient safety. It is thus the responsibility of the student nurse to be very familiar with these guidelines on drug administration to steer clear of untoward consequences.