Reduction in Medication Errors with the Use of PDA Technology

Monday, 18 November 2013: 3:35 PM

Laly J Joseph, DVM, DNP, RN, MSN, APRN, B.C.
Henry P. Becton School of Nursing & Allied Health, Fairleigh Dickinson University, Teaneck, NJ

Learning Objective 1: "The learner will be able to discuss the benefits of using PDA technology at the point of care to access health care information."

Learning Objective 2: "The learner will be able to evaluate the effectiveness of using PDA technology to reduce medication errors, thereby increasing patient safety."


     Medication errors are a major cause of harm to patients and reducing medication errors is a main concern in today’s healthcare setting. Nurses are the main professionals involved in administering medications and administration is the part of the medication process with the least safeguards in place The Institute of Medicine (IOM) estimated that between 44,000 and 98,000 Americans die each year as a result of medication errors and drew attention to the need for technology solutions that can make a difference in the ability of nurses to ensure safe high-quality patient care emphasizing the area of medication administration. The National League for Nursing (NLN) and The American Academy of Nursing (AAN) recommends nurse educators to effectively integrate technology into their teaching through the use of sustained evidence-based practices, distance learning, simulation, and personal digital assistant (PDAs). Information technology, especially handheld technology, such as the PDA used by nurses and nursing students can provide access to information at the point of care to safely calculate medications, allowing them to work with greater accuracy, yet with greater safety An evidence-based pilot project using the Rosswurm and Larrabee Model was conducted to determine if junior under-graduate nursing students could calculate medications in a case study with greater speed and accuracy using a PDA compared to the usual practice of using textbooks and a calculator. Results revealed that students who used the PDA had a higher accuracy and speed than the comparison group who used textbooks and a calculator. Medication administration is a critical step, and the nursing student or nurse administering the medication must be able to perform this procedure safely, since it involves calculations. Incorporation of handheld technology in the undergraduate nursing curriculum is one of the means to decrease and prevent medication errors and would guide future evidence-based practice.