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Identification of prescribing errors by pre-registration student nurses: a cross-sectional observational study utilising a prescription medication quiz
Nurse Education Today
  • Leeann P Whitehair, Southern Cross University
  • Steve Provost, Southern Cross University
  • John Hurley, Southern Cross University
Document Type
Publication Date
Peer Reviewed
Background Nurses are central to the aim of ensuring medication safety, through being predominantly responsible for the administration of medications to patients in acute care settings. Correct identification of prescribing errors by nurses helps to ensure that errors are detected early in the process of administering medications to patients. The limited available research however, suggests that both qualified and student nurses have difficulty in identifying prescribing errors with high accuracy. Objective To collect baseline data on pre-registration student nurses' ability to identify prescribing errors. Design A cross-sectional observational design utilising a prescription medication quiz was employed. The quiz contained six prescriptions that simulated a national inpatient medication chart, and included common types of prescribing errors, as identified in the literature. Settings One Australian university. Participants Third year pre-registration student nurses enrolled in a clinical nursing course in a Bachelor of Nursing programme. Methods Statistical analysis of the data was performed using descriptive statistics, Pearson's product-moment correlation coefficient (Pearson's r) 2-tailed test, and independent sample t-tests. Results Results from the 192 participants suggested that student nurses had difficulties in identifying the prescribing errors built into the prescription medication quiz. Of the five prescriptions containing an error, 7.3% of students identified all 5 errors, 13% identified 4, 21.9% identified 3, 26.6% identified 2, and 20.3% identified only one error. Conclusions It is vital for patient safety that student nurses have greater awareness of, and ability to, correctly identify prescribing errors. The ability of individual students to correctly identify all five errors in this study was poor. These results support the need for educators to consider alternative approaches to educating students about medication safety. Recommendations with the potential to address this gap in education through the use of simulation are proposed.
Citation Information

Whitehair, LP, Provost, S & Hurley, J 2014, 'Identification of prescribing errors by pre-registration student nurses: a cross-sectional observational study utilising a prescription medication quiz', Nurse Education Today, vol. 34, no. 2, pp. 225-232.

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