Medication errors are a major problem for healthcare providers. This is the result of several factors, many of which stem from nurses working harder than ever for longer hours and with sicker patients. Plus, their environments are often stressful and inefficient.
My recent job shadow of a nurse brought this situation home to me. There are several ways to make healing environments more safe and efficient. When it comes to medications, the best approach is to decentralize them to the patient room.
Nurses face frequent interruptions when they’re working. According to a recent study, those interruptions lead to medication errors. I observed this first-hand when my nurse encountered several interruptions during his shift. Securely storing medications near the patient would help to eliminate interruptions—especially those that occur between the med room and the patient room.
This move also would reduce nurse travel distances. Nurses typically walk long distances to the med room—my nurse accessed the med room 38 times in eight hours!
When nurses are retrieving medications from the med room, they have to wait to access the automated medication dispensing machine. Storing medications at the patient room would eliminate that wasted time spent waiting and would enable nurses to spend more time with their patients.
And then there’s waiting for the nurse to return from the med room. While nurses are waiting to access the automated medication dispensing machine, patients are waiting for them. This isn’t a good situation, particularly if the patient is in pain.
Storing medications in the patient room is part of creating flexible and adaptable environments for nurses. We architects must create spaces for nurses that help them deliver quality care.