Risk Factors and Strategies for Prevention of Medication Errors in Patients With Subarachnoid Hemorrhage

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Patients diagnosed with subarachnoid hemorrhage (SAH) are some of the most complex patients treated in the intensive care unit (ICU). With medication therapy accounting for the majority of treatments they receive, their risk for adverse events due to medication error is increased. Nurses and pharmacists can play a crucial role in improving patient safety in the ICU.


The purpose of this article is to review known risk factors for medication error when caring for patients with SAH and present strategies for consideration by nurses and pharmacists for their prevention.


Patient safety literature was reviewed to identify best practice recommendations for reducing adverse drug events related to medication errors in this high-risk population.


Risk factors specific to the critical care environment, the patient being cared for, and the medications utilized were defined. Strategies for error prevention that include creating a culture of safety, employing a team-based approach to care, utilizing technology, and implementing principles of safe medication practice were outlined. The specific roles of pharmacists and nurses in improving patient safety were reviewed with emphasis on implementation of key safety principles.


Medication errors in the ICU are frequent, serious, and preventable. When organizations and health care providers appreciate the risk factors for adverse drug events following the diagnosis of SAH, they can work together to improve patient outcomes by creating a culture that identifies, intercepts, and corrects medication errors.

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