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Enhancing patient safety: The importance of direct supervision for avoiding medication errors and near misses by undergraduate nursing students

Authors

  • Kerry Reid-Searl RN RM BhlthSc MClinEd MRCNA PhD,

    1. Senior Lecturer, School of Nursing and Midwifery, and Institute of Health and Social Science Research, CQUniversity Australia, Rockhampton, Queensland, Australia
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  • Lorna Moxham RN MHN CertOH&S CertQualMngt DAS(Nsg)(MIHE) BHSc Med PhD FACMHN,

    1. Associate Professor, School of Nursing and Midwifery, and Institute of Health and Social Science Research, CQUniversity Australia, Rockhampton, Queensland, Australia
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  • Brenda Happell RN RPN BA(Hons) DipEd BEd MEd PhD

    Corresponding author
    1. Professor of Contemporary Nursing, School of Nursing and Midwifery, and Institute of Health and Social Science Research, CQUniversity Australia, Rockhampton, Queensland, Australia
      Brenda Happell, School of Nursing and Midwifery, and Institute of Health and Social Science Research, CQUniversity Australia, Bruce Highway, Rockhampton, Qld 4702, Australia. Email: b.happell@cqu.edu.au
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Brenda Happell, School of Nursing and Midwifery, and Institute of Health and Social Science Research, CQUniversity Australia, Bruce Highway, Rockhampton, Qld 4702, Australia. Email: b.happell@cqu.edu.au

Abstract

Reid-Searl K, Moxham L, Happell B. International Journal of Nursing Practice 2010; 16: 225–232
Enhancing patient safety: The importance of direct supervision for avoiding medication errors and near misses by undergraduate nursing students

Medication errors have been the focus of considerable research attention in nursing; however, the extent to which nursing students might contribute to errors has not been researched. Using a grounded theory approach, in-depth semi-structured interviews were conducted with undergraduate nursing students based in a university in Queensland to explore their experiences of administering medication in the clinical setting. Almost a third of the participants reported making an actual medication error or a near miss. Where medication errors occurred, participants described not receiving direct and appropriate supervision by a registered nurse. Medication errors by nursing students have the potential to impact significantly on patient safety, quality of health care, and on nursing students' perceptions of their professional competence. Ensuring direct supervision is provided at all times must become an urgent priority for undergraduate nursing education.

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