A new study has revealed that registered nurses (RNs) may be better equipped than licensed practical nurses (LPNs) to discover high risk medication discrepancies that could endanger nursing home residents.
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The study was carried out by researchers at the University of Missouri Sinclair School of Nursing. A group of RNs and a group of LPNs at 12 Missouri nursing homes were presented with medication scenarios that included dosage errors as well as high and low-risk additions and omissions.
The nurses were then asked questions about each scenario and whether they thought there was a medication error and if they would seek further information to resolve any discrepancies.
The results showed that RNs identified discrepancies 62 percent of the time, while LPNs identified 50 percent of medication errors. When analyzed specifically for high-risk medication errors, RNs were able to identify 72 percent of discrepancies, compared to LPNs who identified 49 percent.
These findings imply that RNs are better able to assess medication orders and identify high-risk scenarios and errors.
The researchers concluded that LPNs may be more focused on completing the task at hand, rather than evaluating the risks associated with medications.
When it comes to roles in nursing homes, this means that there may be a need to differentiate between RN and LPN responsibilities.
Nearly 66 percent of adverse events like falls, delirium and hallucinations are related to medication errors and are considered preventable. By placing nursing staff in appropriate roles based on their skills and education levels, patient care can be improved.