RNs are more likely than LPNs to identify medication discrepancies

A study out of the University of Missouri suggests that registered nurses are better equipped than licensed practical nurses to identify high-risk medication errors that could pose a threat to patient safety.

This can be a problem in nursing homes, according to the Mizzou researchers, as both RNs and LPNs tend to perform medication reconciliation in those settings, and nearly 66 percent of adverse events experienced by nursing home residents could be prevented in part by better medication monitoring.

Thirty-two RNs and 70 LPNs participated in the study to see if licensure level related to the detection of medication discrepancies. The study revealed RNs detected medication order discrepancies involving high-risk medications significantly more frequently than LPNs.

"The ability to manage patients' care and keep them stable is a clinical challenge that requires highly educated, clinically savvy nurses," said Amy Vogelsmeier, RN, PhD, associate professor at the MU Sinclair School of Nursing. "Currently, RNs are not functioning in nursing homes to the full scope of their practice."

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