Chapter 7. Parenteral Medication Administration

7.9 Summary

Parenteral medication administration is an effective method of delivering medication to patients, and it can be safely accomplished by utilizing the appropriate guidelines and policies in place to keep patients safe from harm. IV medications have a higher risk of harm than non-parenteral medication. The ever-increasing complexity of the health care environment increases the risk of a medication error with parenteral medications. The key takeaways below provide advice for preventing errors with parenteral medications.

Key Takeaways

  • Parenteral medications have a relatively quick onset of therapeutic effects. Be aware of the onset, peak, and duration of all parenteral medications.
  • Know which medications are considered high-alert medications, and perform independent double checks to minimize errors.
  • Always consider the therapeutic effects and adverse effects when administering parenteral medications.
  • Safeguards for medication administration exist in most hospitals. Make use of all safety strategies (such as smart IV pumps, no-interruption zones, two patient identifiers, and checklists) to administer medications safely.
  • Quality and safety controls for safe medication administration must be considered along the entire process, not just at the point of administration.
  • It is human nature to look for quick and easy ways to perform a task, but doing so may lead to errors. Avoid workarounds: Most hospitals have operational failures that lead to front line health care providers finding ways to manage deficiency in hospital operating systems. Rather than creating workarounds, engage in the additional steps to prevent re-occurrence of issues.
  • Stay current with evidence-based research regarding potential system errors in health care. Commit to improving patient safety with medication administration.
  • Report all errors, near misses, and adverse reactions to ensure knowledge is shared, and to prevent further errors from occurring.

Suggested Online Resources

  1. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ). This website provides evidence-based research, guidelines, recommendations, and resources on improving patient safety.
  2. Canadian Patient Safety Institute (CPSI). This organization’s website provides guidelines, research, and recommendations for improving patient safety in Canada.
  3. Drug calculations. This medication calculation website reviews how to calculate the dosages for parenteral and non-parenteral medications, and IV fluids. It also includes metric conversions and IV drop rate calculations.
  4. Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI). This group’s website provides educational resources, webinars, publications, and improvement stories and tools to enhance patient safety.
  5. Institute for Safe Medication Practices (ISMP). This organization focuses on improving medication administration. The website lists high-alert medications, offers newsletters and webinars, and provides a system for reporting medication errors, guidelines, and policies on safe practices.


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