One in four nurses administer drugs to patients without knowing the possible contraindications and side effects, Nursing Times’ survey has revealed.
A senior nursing academic told Nursing Times those nurses were “failing their code of conduct”.
The Nursing and Midwifery Council’s standards for medicines management state a nurse must know the therapeutic uses of a drug, its normal dosage, and any side effects and contraindications before it is given to a patient.
yet one in ten respondents to our survey also said they did not know the normal dose of a drug before administering it to a patient.
Margaret Edwards, senior lecturer and head of post graduate studies at King’s College London’s Florence Nightingale School of Nursing and Midwifery said the finding was “truly shocking”. She said those nurses “should not be putting themselves back on the register” if they were not competent to administer medication.
Nursing Times’ revelations about the competence many nurses feel they lack in medicines came as the annual inpatients’ survey from the Care Quality Commission found a quarter of patients said they were discharged from hospital without having their medicines explained to them properly.
Nearly half of the 50,000 patients surveyed also said they were not told about side effects and 40 per cent said they had not been told about any danger signals to watch out for after they went home.
Dr Edwards said: “Trusts have a shared responsibility with nursing staff to ensure they are competent in drug administration and all nurses employed within the acute trusts of King’s Health Partners undergo a competency test when they join.
“But it is down to the nurse to ensure competency is maintained and that they work within the scope of their practice to make sure they are safe [to administer medication].”