Nurses have a particularly tough responsibility: they must administer regular medications to many different admitted patients. Since it would be fairly easy to confuse one patient’s drugs with another, nurses are taught to double-check every dose with a system known as The Five Rights.
These five steps should be taken before any medication is administered:
- Right patient. The patient’s identity has to be confirmed, in more than one way, such as asking his name, checking his ID bracelet for his birth date, and confirming the room number on the chart.
- Right drug. Nurses must confirm the name of the drug and its intended use before medicating each patient.
- Right dose. Nurses have to check the dosage instructions three times: when drawing or pouring, with another nurse, and before administering.
- Right time. Even if the medication and dosage are correct, the medication may have an adverse effect at the wrong time of day, such as before the patient has eaten or a certain length of time after a procedure.
- Right route. Hospital drugs can be administered several different ways, including inhalants, injections, IV and tablets. Nurses have to check the route of each and make sure all oral doses have been safely swallowed before leaving a patient’s room.
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