Drug Safety Tips

Nursing Knowledge

Drug Safety Tips

Drug safety is a cornerstone of nursing practice, focusing on the accurate and safe administration of medications to patients. It encompasses a range of protocols and skills, such as confirming the “Five Rights” (right patient, drug, dose, route, time), checking for allergies, and proper documentation. Mistakes in drug administration can lead to severe consequences, including adverse drug reactions or even death.
Last updated: December 4, 2023

Table of contents

General drug safety tips

  • Providing a safe dose of medication often requires calculating a dosage based on a client’s body weight.
    • Neonates and infants are weighed in kilograms
    • Adults are weighed in pounds or kilograms
    • Note: 1 kilogram (kg) is equal to 2.2 pounds (lbs). 
  • If the total daily dose is to be taken throughout the day, ensure equal intervals.
  • Never cut enteric tablets.
  • Do not open capsules to mix into food without provider or pharmacy approval.
  • Always use the 5 rights of medication administration to verify before you administer any medication. 
  • Confirm any allergies before administering medication.
  • Be cautious with drugs that have similar names or appearances.

Dosage calculation example 

Nurses are responsible for ensuring that the ordered medication dose is within a safe and therapeutic range for the client. Always ensure the dose ordered by a provider is within the dosage range listed on the medication label.

Label example

Usual dose: Children, 20–40 mg per kg a day in three divided doses. Adults, 250 mg three times a day. See literature. Contains Cefaclor-Monohydrate equivalent to 375 mg anhydrous Cefaclor in a dry, pleasantly-flavored mixture.

Order example

Give 125 mg every 8 hours

Calculation example

If the client weighs 10 kg, is this order a safe and therapeutic dose?

For a 10-kg client, the safe and therapeutic range of this medication is 200–400 mg/day.

10 x 20 = 200 mg (lowest therapeutic dose)

10 x 40 = 400 mg (highest safe range of medication)

—> The received order would provide 375 mg/day.

3 doses in a day (24 hours) = 24/8, which is 1 dose every 8 hours. 

When a medication is ordered in divided doses, make sure the total daily dose is within the stated safe therapeutic range on the label.

125 mg x 3 is 375 mg in 1 day. 375 mg is within the safe and therapeutic range of 200–400 mg.

How to read medication labels 

The parts of a typical drug label include: 

  • Recommended dosing information
  • Preparation instructions
  • Storage requirements
  • Pharmaceutical company
  • The drug name
  • The route of administration
  • The dosage per unit of measurement
Drug safety


Drug Safety Tips

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Review of how to assess medication labels; how to calculate weight based dosing; and how to determine therapeutic dosing ranges

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