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Medical Errors Prevention in the Nursing Practice


The work of caring for the sick is very delicate and professionals are easily prone to making errors. Medical errors refer to an action by a nurse attributable to factors such as bad judgment, ignorance, or inattention resulting in the failure of an intended action (Armitage, 2009).

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They mainly involve errors in planning and execution of medical procedures. Nurses have an ethical obligation of ensuring patient safety, thus the need to come up with strategies that can be applied in preventing medical errors. Over the years, medical errors have been the biggest cause of deaths in hospitals across the United States. A report released by the hospital safety score in 2013, showed that close to 500,000 people in the country lose their lives every year because of preventable medical errors (Bell, White, & Gallagher, 2015). Most of the errors come about because of medical procedures such as diagnosis and therapeutic treatment approaches.

Research has established such procedures result in medical errors that expose patients to an array of health conditions and disorders, which in turn increase their cost and length of treatment (Kalra, 2011).

Reports indicate that cases of medical errors have been on the rise since the turn of the century due to factors such as emerging diseases, complicated health care facilities, globalization, poor communication between patients and their practitioners, as well as technological advancements (Hall, White, & Ferris, 2010). There is an urgent need to stimulate a cultural change with regard to the delivery of health care facilities in the contemporary world (Brady, Malone, & Fleming, 2009).

Achieving this feat will require increased capacity building among health care professionals regarding crucial elements of life in the 21st Century such as heightened cultural diversity because of globalization, as well as changing medical needs and attitudes towards treatment due to the effect of technology. The most important step in this journey is appreciating the fact that nurses make medical errors, the need to learn from them, and coming up with effective approaches for preventing their reoccurrence (Brady et al., 2009). In addition, health care facilities need to work on improving the patient safety score.

Problem identification and significance

Miami, Florida is one of the American cities that have the highest statistics with regard to medical errors in the nursing practice. The biggest concern has been raised with regard to surgical processes, inaccuracies, and diagnostic delays (Kalra, 2011). Other major causes of medical errors in the city include tubing misconnections, faulty devices, falls, misinformation, and poor comprehension of health care information technologies (Armitage, 2009).

It is important to note that medical errors can also happen during routine practices such as feeding the patients. Studies have established that a simple mix up in the food of patients on special diets can have serious adverse effects compared to one time medical procedures (Brady et al., 2009).

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Many patients in various health care facilities across the state have developed severe health conditions due to errors made by practitioners treating them. Some of the areas in which medical errors often occur in include pharmacies, clinics, hospitals, nursing homes, and even in homes for those given specialized care (Bell et al., 2015). Reports indicate that at least 14% of patients treated in health care facilities end up as victims of medical errors. This means that in every seven patients, one case often involves a preventable error. The main significance of identifying the medical errors and coming up with prevention strategies is promoting the welfare of patients by ensuring their safety. Patient safety is one of the fundamental obligations of nurses, which involves learning about various patient needs and their attitude towards treatment (Armitage, 2009).

Studies have established that factors such as technological advancements have had a huge influence on the delivery of health care services (Bell et al., 2015). This makes nurses with little knowledge about the operation of certain machines prone to making errors that cause further damage to their patients. Preventing medical errors in the nursing practice plays a crucial role in improving patient experiences. Health care experts argue that patients tend to be satisfied with the services they receive in a health care facility as long as their safety is highly prioritized, and their needs are not neglected (Bell et al., 2015).

Therefore, all the relevant authorities should ensure that this challenge is addressed effectively in order to improve the health index of the country’s population, as well as improving the quality of life. It is important to note that the quality of life is often compromised by health care related factors such as high cost of treatment, poor access to health cover, and culturally incompetent health care service delivery (Smeulers, 2014). Research has established that cultural competency and poverty eradication are the necessary ingredients for improving the effectiveness of health care delivery systems because they will help in achieving better patient experiences (Smeulers, 2014).


Over the last couple of years, the Florida state government has made numerous efforts in collaboration with various organizations geared towards reducing cases of medical errors in Miami. Some of the approaches proposed by the government include promoting evidence based medical practice, conforming to the accreditation standards provided by safety agents, carrying out a root cause analysis, as well as implementing federal and state legislation on patient safety (Buhrow & Buhrow, 2014). The most effective resolution plan is encouraging nurses to observe their ethical code of conduct, encouraging capacity building, and active participation of patients in the process of health care service delivery (Delamont, 2013).

This plan will play a crucial role in underlying the importance of patient safety. However, it is important to note that the effectiveness of this mitigation plan will depend a lot on the ability and willingness of nurses to meet their ethical obligations (Smeulers, 2014). Patients also have a major role to play in preventing medical errors. Some of the ways in which patients can help in addressing this challenge include getting necessary information about the medicine prescribed to them by the doctor, as well as from the pharmacy (Buhrow & Buhrow, 2014).

Such information includes any possible side effects, ensuring that the prescriptions are clear, as well as informing the doctor of any underlying medical conditions that a patient has (Tang, Sheu, Yu, Wei, & Chen, 2007). Such information helps the patient to be safe because the nurse will avoid administering the wrong medication or even giving the wrong dosage. The Florida state government should also make increased efforts to ensure that nurses adhere to the guidelines set for reporting medical errors.

Nurses have a huge role to play with regard to preventing all the common medical errors. One of the common errors is falls, which are common among older adult patients of age 65 years and above (Berlinger, 2009). This problem can be prevented by nurses encouraging the patients to seek help from the closest staff member. In addition, the nurses should ensure that the area close to the patient beds does not have any obstacles or objects that can motivate one to ignore the need for assistance (Delamont, 2013).

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Nurses can also ensure that they make routine checkups on their patients, familiarize themselves with any medication that can trigger a patient to fall due to dizziness, as well as ensuring they do not have too many patients to attend to at a time (Berlinger, 2009). Other errors such as misinformation and poor documentation can be addressed by ensuring active interaction with patients and regular monitoring of their information in order to notice any slight inconsistency.

Errors resulting from nursing equipments are very bad, thus the need for nurses to ensure they have the right training on using various tools (Delamont, 2013). They should examine the equipments regularly and keep the faulty ones away from the users, as well as ensuring that the tools are used for their right work and within the manufacturers’ recommendations (Buhrow & Buhrow, 2014). This will help in reducing the chances of an error occurring because availing a faulty tool to a nurse who is not aware can be highly risky to them and the patient.

Nurses working in the health care facilities in Miami should also make an effort to deliver culturally competent care. Research has established that cultural believes have a huge impact on the way people perceive treatment, thus the need for health care professionals to familiarize themselves with different cultures (Armitage, 2009). In addition, the high rate of globalization has led to people moving across the world. This means that nurses in the 21st Century have to deal with highly diverse patient groups.

This prevention plan will be highly beneficial to both the nurses and their patients in six major ways. They include ensuring safety by avoiding injuries, effective execution of scientific information to achieve better outcomes, patient oriented health care delivery system, timely attention to patients, efficiency, and equitable provision of health care services to everyone (Berlinger, 2009). In addition, the prevention plan will also be very beneficial to the health care system, which will experience increased efficiency and better conformation to safety standards.


Medical errors are one of the main challenges facing the global health care industry in the 21st Century. Some of the main causes of medical errors include poor communication, ignorance, incapacitation, and bad judgment among others. Some of the populations that are highly vulnerable to medical errors include older adults, infants and children, intensive care patients, as well as patients with limited health literacy.

Reports indicate that they contribute to several deaths across the United States every year. Although there have been numerous efforts by the relevant authorities to address the problem, the rate at which the safety scores of health care facilities are improving is very slow. One of the most important steps in addressing this challenge is accepting that there are medical errors, identifying their source and coming up with effective strategies for addressing them. According to health care experts, nurses have a huge role to play in preventing medical errors because they are the primary care givers. In addition, they have an ethical obligation of ensuring patient safety through culturally competent care.


Armitage, G. (2009). Human error theory: Relevance to nurse management. Journal of Nursing Management, 17(2), 193-202. Web.

Bell, S.K., White, A.A., & Gallagher, T.H. (2015). Transparency when things go wrong: Physician attitudes about reporting medical errors to patients, peers, and institutions. Journal of Patient Safety, 12(2), 30-45. Web.

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Berlinger, N. (2009). After Harm: Medical Error and the Ethics of Forgiveness. New York: JHU Press. Web.

Brady, A., Malone, A., & Fleming, S. (2009). A literature review of the individual and systems factors that contribute to medication errors in nursing practice. Journal of Nursing Management, 17(6), 679-697. Web.

Buhrow, S.M., & Buhrow, J.A. (2014). Integrating patient safety in the OMFS curriculum: Survey of 4-year residency programs. Journal of Patient Safety, 10(8), 101-123. Web.

Delamont, A. (2013). How to avoid the top seven nursing errors. Nursing Made Incredibly Easy, 11(2), 8-10. Web.

Hall, L.M., White, D., & Ferris, E. (2010). Going blank: Factors contributing to interruptions to nurses’ work and related outcomes. Journal of Nursing Management, 18(8), 1040-1047. Web.

Kalra, J. (2011). Medical Errors and Patient Safety: Strategies to Reduce and Disclose Medical Errors and Improve Patient Safety. New York: Walter de Gruyter. Web.

Smeulers, M. (2014). Nurses experiences and perspectives on medication safety practices: An explorative qualitative study. Journal of Nursing Management, 22(3), 276-285. Web.

Tang, F. I., Sheu, S. J., Yu, S., Wei, I. L., & Chen, C. H. (2007). Nurses relate the contributing factors involved in medication errors. Journal of Clinical Nursing, 16(3), 447-457. Web.

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