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Year : 2016  |  Volume : 29  |  Issue : 3  |  Page : 171-178

Medication calculation and administration workshop and hurdle assessment increases student awareness towards the importance of safe practices to decrease medication errors in the future

1 Clinical Skills Unit, College of Medicine and Dentistry, James Cook University, Queensland, Australia
2 Clinical Skills Unit, College of Medicine and Dentistry, James Cook University; Department of General Surgery; The Townsville Hospital, Queensland, Australia
3 Clinical Skills Unit, College of Medicine and Dentistry, James Cook University; Department of Endocrinology; The Townsville Hospital, Queensland, Australia

Correspondence Address:
Darlene Wallace
Clinical Skills Unit, College of Medicine and Dentistry, James Cook University, Queensland 4811
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/efh.EfH_312_14

Background: Medication errors are the second most frequently reported hospital incident in Australia and are a global concern. A “Medication Calculation and Administration” workshop followed by a “hurdle” assessment (compulsory task mandating a minimum level of performance as a condition of passing the course) was introduced into Year 2 of the James Cook University medical curriculum to decrease dosage calculation and administration errors among graduates. This study evaluates the effectiveness of this educational activity as a long-term strategy to teach medical students' essential skills in calculating and administering medications. Methods: This longitudinal study used a pre- and post-test design to determine whether medical students retained their calculation and administration skills over a period of 4 years. The ability to apply basic mathematical skills to medication dose calculation, principles of safe administration (Part 1), and ability to access reference materials to check indications, contraindications, and writing the medication order with correct abbreviations (Part 2) were compared between Year 2 and 6 assessments. Results: Scores for Parts 1, 2 and total scores were nearly identical from Year 2 to Year 6 (P = 0.663, 0.408, and 0.472, respectively), indicating minimal loss of knowledge by students in this period. Most Year 6 students (86%) were able to recall at least 5 of the “6 Rights of Medication Administration” while 84% reported accessing reference material and 91% reported checking their medical calculations. Discussion: The “Medication Calculation and Administration” workshop with a combined formative and summative assessment – a “hurdle” – promotes long-term retention of essential clinical skills for medical students. These skills and an awareness of the problem are strategies to assist medical graduates in preventing future medication-related adverse events.

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