Among the most serious problems nurses continually face are missing medications and the timeliness of medication delivery, the study found. Administering medication seems simple enough until the pressures and distractions that nurses routinely face are factored in.
For example, medication delivery schedules at hospital pharmacies may not jive with nurses' work schedules. Or, the patient may be scheduled for other tests that coincide or interfere with medication times. The INQRI study found that effective strategies to ensure medication compliance included repeated calls to the pharmacy to check on medications' status, marking drugs to be given immediately, and often picking up the medications themselves instead of waiting for delivery.
The study made clear that the ability of nurses to effectively communicate with everyone in the care continuum—from the patient to the subspecialist—is particularly important.
Coauthor Linda Flynn, RN, professor and associate dean for graduate nursing education at Rutgers, said the study "identified communication with doctors, pharmacists and other nurses as an indispensable part of preventing medication errors and ensuring patient safety."