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Photo of an intensive care unit nurse conducting training with other nurses on intravenous drip medications.
Figure 11.1 Medication administration is a common function of the nurse. (credit: “3rd Medical Battalion nurses and Corpsmen conduct ICU training 200424-M-RB959-1103” by Staff Sgt. Jordan E. Gilbert/Navy Medicine, Public Domain)

In the United States, medication errors affect more than 7 million patients and result in approximately 7,000 to 9,000 deaths each year (Tariq et al., 2023). These statistics include only those cases reported and do not account for the hundreds of thousands of adverse reactions, complications, or medication errors that are not reported. Although death is the most severe outcome, medication errors may also result in other negative consequences, such as increased medical costs (exceeding $40 billion each year in the United States), psychological stress and physical pain, suffering, decreased patient satisfaction, and decreased trust in providers and the healthcare system (Tariq et al., 2023).

Medication errors generally occur at the point of ordering, transcribing, dispensing, administering, monitoring, or documenting. It is important to note that medication errors are preventable and may be avoided with appropriate safety precautions (Tariq et al., 2023). Nurses play a critical role in ensuring these safety precautions are implemented. Nurses also design and evaluate safety initiatives, whether at the bedside or in other capacities, such as leadership, and safety/quality programs. To effectively reduce the risk of medication errors, it is important to practice nursing standards of care through application of principles for safe medication administration, understanding specific safety considerations, and knowledge of common sources of errors. This chapter provides the knowledge necessary to engage in the process of ensuring safe medication administration.

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