The Lived Experience of Making a Medication Administration Error in Nursing Practice
Seema Lall, PhD, RN

The multiple and varied roles of nurses, complexity of workplace, chaotic and technical nature of the work environment may result in cognitive overload that may overwhelm nurses, which may possibly lead to medication errors. All medication errors committed are considered serious events but some may consequently be harmful to patients and have a lasting effect on the nurses involved in making the error. This study examined what it was like to make a medication error for eight registered nurses through in-depth and focused face to face interviewing using the descriptive phenomenological approach rooted in the philosophical tradition of Husserl (Husserl, 1965). The data were generated from a total of sixteen interviews and field notes. Data analysis was done using Colaizzi’s method for data interpretation. Five theme categories emerged: Immediate Impact: Psychological and Physical Reactions; Multiple Causes within Chaos: Cognitive Dimensions; Embedded Challenges: Healthcare Setting; Organizational Culture: Within the Place/Within the Person; Dynamics of Reflection: Looking Forward. The lived experience of making a medication administration errorled nurses to the realization that a profound occurrence had happened. This resulted in physical and emotional upheavals, a threatened professional status, with low self-esteem and confidence. An overwhelming workload, a stressful work environment and ill-treatment by peers were predominantly described as the cause/s of the errors. Nurses did offer ways to improve the system but felt their concerns were often not valued. Implications for nursing practice to improve patient outcomes, and for nursing education, to radically change the teaching methods of medication administration were suggested.

Full Text: PDF     DOI: 10.15640/ijn.v4n2a2