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3 common mistakes during IV drug administration

Human error is a major contributing factor to many medication mistakes. People take the wrong medication or make timing errors, such as forgetting a dose, that can impact the efficacy of their treatment or lead to dangerous bodily reactions.

The delivery of medication through an intravenous (IV) system is the gold standard for many medical needs. There are many benefits to IV administration, For example, IV administration can lead to a faster reaction than requiring digestion for medication to take effect. In theory, medical professionals also have total control over what happens as someone receives an IV infusion.

Still, mistakes during IV drug administration are surprisingly common. What are some of the most frequent mistakes that affect the safety and success of IV medication administration?

Timing errors

The nurse or assistant setting up the machine that delivers the medication may make a mistake as they input the settings. Delivering a medication too quickly or too slowly can affect how the body handles the medication and can potentially lead to an overdose scenario. Timing errors are quite common and can be very dangerous for the patient involved.

Medication mix-ups

In theory, every staff member will need to verify the medication they intend to administer with someone’s chart before setting up the IV. However, most medical professionals will have numerous patients in their care and may actually set up multiple IV medications in a single shift. A simple mix-up with the bags of medication could lead to major consequences for the patients receiving the treatment.

Formulation mistakes

A hospital worker could set up the machinery perfectly and connect the right bag of medicine to the device, only for the patient to have a negative reaction anyway. There can sometimes be mistakes with IV drug suspensions during the formulation process at a pharmacy. A technician mixing the medication could get the dosage wrong or include the wrong ingredients. Such a mistake, like a mix-up in medications at the hospital level, can lead to dire consequences for the patient involved.

Proper safety protocols at medical facilities will drastically reduce, if not eliminate, IV medication mistakes. Pursuing a medical malpractice claim after a drug administration error can compensate you and your family for the impact of preventable medical mistakes.