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The Sterile Cockpit: Medication Errors Prevention Essay

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Updated: Jun 9th, 2021

Recently, the topic of nursing mistakes errors has begun to concern the public seriously, as there is a tendency to increase medication errors among medical staff. It leads to the fact that the life and health of patients are put at risk because of, for example, the inappropriate dosage of medication or even prescribing the wrong medicine. That is why it is vital to study the causes of these errors and look for ways to eliminate them as Federwisch, Ramos, and Adams (2014) did in their article “The Sterile Cockpit: An Effective Approach to Reducing Medication Errors?” This essay provides a summary of the article and discusses its key ideas and main conclusions.

Sterile Cockpit Strategy

One of the main causes of medication errors among nurses is believed to be the intervention of other medical staff or patients, which leads to decreased concentration. Some medical institutions introduce a “sterile cockpit” strategy, whose aim is to create isolated rooms or use special signs for nurses, to prevent such cases of intervention (Federwisch et al., 2014, p. 37). For example, in one hospital, the place of medical administration was separated by strips of red duct tape. In another medical unit, nurses wear special bright vests, which meant that other people should not disturb them. Federwisch, Ramos, and Adams (2014) implemented Medication Quiet Time by posting “two octagonal red signs on the sides of each medication cart” in their medical unit (p. 50). They stopped signs, which read that medication administration is in progress.

Bedside Rounding

Another way to reduce the number of interventions, which also proved effective, was bedside rounding. This change helped “address basic patient needs at the start of each shift, thereby forestalling common causes of interruptions” (Federwisch et al., 2014, p. 50). The implementation of bedside rounding led to the timely detection of some errors connected with omitted medications. However, there were some difficulties during the implementation of this measure, such as the reluctance of some nurses to participate or their desire to finish work faster at the end of the working day. Nevertheless, the number of interventions, as well as the number of errors decreased, which indicates the effectiveness of bedside rounding.

Research Outcomes and Take-Home Points for Nurses

The consistent application of the two strategies in this study showed positive results. After the introduction of bedside rounding, “the number of medication errors dropped” from 21 to 9 within six months (Federwisch et al., 2014, p. 52). Moreover, a month after stop signs began to be used, this number reduced to three. However, surveys have shown that this strategy is not sufficiently effective, as some medical professionals and patients did not pay attention to the signs and continued to disturb nurses during medication administration.

As for crucial points for nurses, the first one is that they should accept interruptions as an inevitable part of their job. Nurses are sometimes the only medical staff who can answer patients’ questions or help doctors. Furthermore, Federwisch et al. (2014) claim that “nurses must double-check medications both outside and inside patient rooms” (p. 54). This measure may also decrease the number of medication errors.

Conclusion

Even though medication errors are still a serious problem, some strategies may be regarded as effective solutions, such as sterile cockpit or bedside rounding. It is impossible to eliminate interruptions during medical administration because of the nature of the nursing profession. However, the adoption of some measures, such as the creation of special isolated areas for nurses, as well as the collection of the necessary information during rounds, is a relevant solution to this problem.

Reference

Federwisch, M., Ramos, H., & Adams, S.C. (2014). The sterile cockpit: An effective approach to reducing medication errors? The American Journal of Nursing, 114(2), 47-55.

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1. IvyPanda. "The Sterile Cockpit: Medication Errors Prevention." June 9, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/essays/the-sterile-cockpit-medication-errors-prevention/.


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IvyPanda. 2021. "The Sterile Cockpit: Medication Errors Prevention." June 9, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/essays/the-sterile-cockpit-medication-errors-prevention/.

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IvyPanda. (2021) 'The Sterile Cockpit: Medication Errors Prevention'. 9 June.

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