If you’re admitted to a Virginia hospital, either in an emergency or a scheduled surgery, various members of a medical team will likely provide care. In most cases, you will interact most often with a team of nurses, who will do things like track your vital signs, monitor your condition and, if necessary, administer medication. There is a safety network in place known as the “five rights” or “five Rs,” which helps nurses avoid medication errors.
There’s always an inherent risk involved in medical procedures and treatments. It’s possible that a nurse might give you a medication prescribed by your doctor, only to discover that you are allergic to it. You would not (and neither would they) have necessarily known that ahead of time. However, in hospitals and other medical settings throughout Virginia, many people have suffered serious injuries due to medication errors that were easily avoidable. This often constitutes medical malpractice.
Be aware of the 5 R system that nurses use to avoid medication errors
As part of accepted safety standards in the medical industry, nurses often practice a checklist of “rights” that helps keep patients safe when they receive medication. The idea is for a nurse to check (and double check) the following things:
- Right patient
- Right drug
- Right dosage
- Right time
- Right route
A nurse’s negligence can cause a lethal mistake. Even if you survive a medication error, you might suffer severe injuries. There is no excuse for disregarding available safety precautions, especially when a nurse is administering a strong narcotic or other potentially dangerous drug.
Consider how each R improves patient safety
You might be in the hospital on the same floor as a patient who has a similar name. There could be numerous patients with similar conditions whose doctors have prescribed medication as treatment. If a nurse gives you a drug that was for another patient, the results can be disastrous. This is an easily avoidable medication error. A nurse should never administer a drug without making sure it is going to the correct patient.
Many drugs have similar names. If you suspect that your nurse is about to give you the wrong drug, speak up. In addition to confirming the right patient and the right medication, nurses should always make sure they have the correct dosage and are giving the drug at the proper time by the correct route. The term “route” refers to the way a medication is getting into your body, such as topically (applied to the skin), by ingestion (swallowing) or through injection.
Proving a medical malpractice claim in civil court
If you suffer injury due to a medication error that occurred because of nursing negligence, Virginia law allows you to seek restitution in civil court. You must prove to the court that certain elements existed at the time of your injury. Because medical malpractice litigation is highly complex and stressful, it’s always best to seek experienced counsel ahead of time.