The costs of medication errors can have an enormous impact on the delivery of safe and effective patient care. Medication errors account for at least one patient death every day and nearly 1.3 million patient injuries each year in the U.S. alone(FDA, 2011).This is especially startling considering most, if not all could be prevented.
It would be unfortunate if the only difference between life and death had to do with a misplaced decimal point or an inaccurate conversion related to dosing for a weight-based medication. i.e.: Heparin, Dopamine.
Online Nursing Assessments of Mathematical Skills
It is critical to use valid and reliable tools to measure and identify processes and competencies that are deficient or not reflective of best practice as they relate to medication errors and more specifically, dosage calculations.
Prophecy offers 3 online nursing assessments to assist in addressing patient safety as it relates to medication administration and calculations.
- RN Basic Math Ability
- RN Advanced Math Ability
- Perceptual Ability
The math ability assessments include 30 items measuring a nurse’s ability to:
- perform metric conversions,
- calculate weight-based dosages,
- calculate IV drip rates for both bolus and continuous infusions, and
- correctly calculate sliding scale insulin dosages based upon specific sliding scale insulin orders.
Assessing Perceptual Ability of Caregivers
Possessing strong perceptual/inspection skills are also key to success in nursing. Nurses are frequently presented with prescriptions, medication labels, patient charts, and other graphical information where they are required to extract the correct number and text sequence. Drawing out transposed or incomplete number sets can produce serious consequences on the job.
The Perceptual ability assessment includes 20 items measuring the nurse’s ability to:
- accurately differentiate between alphanumerical characteristics in a string of letters and numbers,
- pair groups of number and letters that match one another, and
- recognize an object as distinct from its surrounding environment.
Administering Prophecy’s Perceptual Ability exam in conjunction with one of our math ability exams confirms that the nurse possesses the visual ability to discriminate between alphanumeric strings of numbers.
Negative Impact on Reimbursement
Medication errors not only cause patient injuries and death but they can also prolong a patient’s length of stay which can have a negative impact on reimbursement. An adverse drug event can cost up to $5.6 million each year per hospital exclusive of malpractice and litigation costs, or the costs of injuries to patients (AHRQ, 2011).
In this time of linking quality initiatives and outcomes to reimbursement, it is imperative that healthcare professionals gain insight into understanding and performing a root cause analysis at every level when it comes to preventable medication errors.