Medication Errors Reduction of Errors with IV Insulin

MedicationErrors: Reduction of Errors with IV Insulin


Instanceof Medication Error

Manyreports exist that are associated with insulin related medicationerror (Ahuja, 2005). The errors and misadministration involvenumerous types of medical practitioners including pharmacist andnurses. Human error is the most common cause that may includeforgetfulness, lapses and mental slips resulting in insulin overdoseor delayed administration (Cohen, 2007). In addition, insulinconcentration attributed to poor calibration of parenteral syringesand insulin syringes (Porche, 2008). For example, a doctor orderedthat a nurse should inject 50mL of IV dextrose and with the inclusionof five units of regular insulin IV (100 units per mL) to a patientwho had other complications: hyperkalemia and renal failure. However,the nurse with a10 mL syringe administered 5 ml (500 units) ofinsulin. The patient condition worsened and the patient was admittedto an intensive care unit to be monitored and treated. This is anexample of medication error that is associated with a patientsuffering from diabetes.

Avoidanceof the Error

Itis important for the medical fraternity and other stakeholders toavoid such errors. Some of the solutions to avoid the occurrence ofinsulin related medical errors include:

  • Safe practice recommendations – High alert medication is important, and it is also crucial not to assume that healthcare practitioners have skills and knowledge with recognizing doses, preparation of insulin infusions and measuring doses (Cohen, 2007). Therefore, training and educating medical practitioners and understanding their capacities is prime in avoiding insulin medication errors (Ahuja, 2005).

  • Provision of education – It is important to educate and train the staff members (Porche, 2008). The staff members should be informed on how to administer the insulin, prepetition, understanding prescription, measuring doses, understanding different syringes and recognizing safe doses. In addition, restriction of administration of insulin to only those practitioners who understand and have knowledge of administering insulin.

  • Insulin syringes – syringes should be defined and be able to be differentiated (Cohen, 2007). Insulin syringes should be well labeled and should be differentiated from other parenteral syringes (Porche, 2008)

  • Provision of reminders – in those institutions whereby patient specific insulin doses are not dispensed, a reminder should be generated while recording the information (Ahuja, 2005). The message should be computer generated informing on the right insulin syringe (Cohen, 2007)

Handlingof the Error

Whenmedication error has been realized, it is important to check bloodsugar (Ahuja, 2005). If the blood sugar is not at the right levels,the individual should consume carbohydrates such as sweetened fruitjuice or a class of regular soda (Cohen, 2007). The individual shouldcontinue checking the blood sugar, and if the issue continues, it isprudent to request medical assistance (Porche, 2008). The medicalprofessionals would propose appropriate medication approach toaddressing the complication (Cohen, 2007).


Medicationerrors are inherent in any medical facility, and it is crucial toinstitute measures to address the error. Insulin overdose or errorare common because of human error for example, poor reading skills,lack of appropriate information on medication and confusion ofmedication. To avoid the errors, the medical practitioners should beeducated, and insulin syringes should be provided, safe practicerecommendations should be encouraged, and provision of remindersshould be factored into consideration. In addition, the medicalpractitioners should educate patients and employ appropriatestrategies to handle the insulin medication error within the shortesttime possible.


Ahuja,G. (2005). Druginjury: Liability, analysis, and prevention.California: Lawyers &amp Judges Publishing Company.

Cohen,M. (2007). Medicationerrors.New York: American Pharmacist Association.

Porche,R. (2008). Medicationuse: A systems approach to reducing errors.London: Joint Commission Resources