Our 2023 nursing calculations quiz is now available.
In the coming weeks, our clients can assess and enhance their calculations skills by using our new quiz. Are you an expert at performing medication calculations or do you need practice? Take the quiz and find out!
Nursing medication calculations are a critical component of patient safety. Very few people enjoy medication calculations, but our patients rely on us to do them well every time. As we all know, the best way to improve at something is to practice it repeatedly. In this post we discuss our most recent medication calculation quiz and how it can be used as a component to increase patient safety and enhance regulatory compliance.
Each year, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) receives more than 100,000 reports associated with a suspected medication error. The National Coordinating Council for Medication Error Reporting and Prevention defines medication error as any preventable event that may cause or lead to inappropriate medication use or patient harm while the medication is in the control of the healthcare professional, patient, or consumer. As a result of medication errors, it is estimated that each year, 7000 to 9000 people die in the United States. Many more drug errors go unnoticed or unreported.
How to reduce the risk of medication dosing errors:
Calculating doses, drawing them up and administering them doesn’t happen in a vacuum. These tasks are often performed in stressful situations where timing is critical, so remaining calm is always a good starting point. What other steps can you take to minimize risks?
- Be consistent: Consistently performing a task a particular way will help build muscle memory. That muscle memory increases the likelihood of performing it correctly and reduces the stress of the situation. Apply this consistency to notation of the patient’s weight. Since medications are usually dosed milligrams per kilogram, learn to consistently convert and document the patient’s weight in kilograms. Make sure the rest of your team is aware of the patient’s weight. Stick with kilograms and do not alternate between kilograms and pounds. This leads to confusion and increases the risk of error. Need help making the conversion? Reach out to us and we can provide a tool that allows you to make the conversion quickly without a calculator.
- Read the medication label carefully: This a critically important step and one that often leads to errors and potential patient harm. Watch the decimal points and keep in mind that the same concentration is sometimes expressed differently; 1:1000 is the same concentration as 1mg/mL or 0.1%. This can be confusing, and it helps to double check or have a second person verify, if possible. Medication shortages are causing changes in routines and what you thought was one concentration may now be a different concentration…don’t assume!
- Always measure twice before drawing up once: Become familiar with the medications available in your organization. Always double check vial and syringe sizes before drawing up your medication. If possible, have a second person double check your numbers, especially for high-alert medications or those from the list of confused drug names.
- Label all syringes once drawn: Medications that are not for immediate use require proper labeling. Do you know the components of a completely and properly labeled syringe? Per the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ (CMS) requirements, a properly labeled syringe should have the name of the medication, the strength or concentration, the date of preparation, the time of preparation, the time of expiration and the initials of the person preparing it. Never take for granted that the contents of the syringe are obvious.
- Practice, practice, practice: I am a believer in practice and repetition to develop muscle memory. Calculations can range from easy and straightforward to tricky and complicated. The best way to avoid mistakes is to practice situations using common and not-so-common scenarios to ensure you are prepared.
What’s the best medication calculations quiz?
The obvious answer is ours! Seriously, the important point is that you practice, not which quiz you use. That said, we automatically provide an updated quiz for each of our clients on an annual basis. If you’re already part of our team, you can expect to see the 2023 Nursing Medication Calculations Quiz during our upcoming facility visit. If you’re not currently a client and would like a copy, please contact us.
When it comes to practice, the important thing is that you do it. There are many options available, both on paper and online. Our quizzes are specific to practice settings, such as ambulatory surgery centers or long-term care facilities. This helps make the calculations more relevant and enhances learning. Take our quiz and let us know what you think…we even provide the answers so that you can grade yourself when finished.
Although this topic may not be exciting, calculations are a necessary evil and being proficient is crucial to reduce risk and enhance patient safety. If you have any questions contact us, we are here to help.
The Consultant Pharmacists at OctariusRx provide guidance on safe medication management, survey readiness and cost savings to ambulatory healthcare facilities/surgery centers, senior care facilities and pharmacies. We also help individual patients optimize their medications to improve their quality of life and save money. Contact us for assistance.