The idea of the “five rights” for medication safety has been taught in nursing school since at least World War II, used as a memory tool that nurses should rely on to administer medications safely. Even though no one can identify where the five rights came from, the idea is embedded in medication safety programs and appears frequently in error reports submitted to ECRI and the ISMP Patient Safety Organization.
As our guest Susan Paparella, Vice President, Services, Institute for Safe Medication Practices (ISMP), points out, the five rights are inadequate as a safety tool. Because they do not address the system-level errors that contribute to medication errors, those errors can occur even when the five rights have been followed. In the latest episode, we discuss more about the shortcomings of the five rights, and better starting points for medication safety programs.