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What strategies can we implement to provide ongoing education about preventing errors at our facility?

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First of all, avoid the typical approach such as reviewing the eight rights of medication administration or listing safety measures such as making sure the call light is within reach of patients to avoid falls. I don’t mean to say that these things are “bad,” but nurses will either be bored or insulted by such commonplace approaches.       

Think creatively. How about visual illustrations? Draw a picture of a patient area with about 10 to 15 safety violations and post it wherever learners are most likely to see it (e.g., bulletin boards, computer screens, hospital newsletter, etc.) Offer a prize (e.g., free lunch or dinner in the cafeteria) for the first 10 nurses, or others as appropriate, who correctly identify the violations. Making a “contest” with a reward attached generates discussion and stimulates interest.

Similarly, write a scenario involving a medication error. Ask nurses to respond by identifying at what point(s) the error could have been prevented. Include a variety of points such as the order being transcribed incorrectly, mislabeling at the pharmacy, failure to check two patient identifiers, etc. Or ask the nursing staff to come up with a creative scenario about error prevention. Come up with guidelines and make it a contest with members of the education council or other groups acting as judges.

-Adrianne E. Avillion, DEd, RN, and Barbara A. Brunt, MA, MN, RN-BC, NE-BC

(November 2012)