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Medicine safety during your hospital stay


Medicine safety means you get the right medicine, the right dose, at the right times. During your hospital stay, your health care team needs to follow many steps to make sure this happens.

Alternative Names

Medication safety - hospital; Five rights - medication; Medication administration - hospital; Medical errors - medication; Patient safety - medication safety

Medicine Safety While You're in the Hospital

When you're in the hospital, work with your health care team to ensure that you get the right medicines the right way.

Getting the Right Medicine

All hospitals have a process in place to make sure you get the right medicines. A mistake could cause a problem for you. The process is as follows:

Filling Your Prescriptions

The pharmacy may receive some prescriptions by computer (electronic) and some that are handwritten. Electronic prescriptions are easier to read than handwritten prescriptions. This means there is less chance of a medicine error with electronic prescriptions.

Your doctor can tell your nurse to write down a prescription for you. Then your nurse can send the prescription to the pharmacy. This is called a verbal order. Your nurse should repeat the prescription back to your doctor to make sure it is right before sending it to the pharmacy.

Your doctor, nurse, and pharmacist will check to make sure any new medicines you receive do not cause a bad reaction with other medicines you are already taking.

The Rights of Medication Administration

The Rights of Medication Administration is a checklist nurses use to make sure you get the right medicine. The rights are as follows:

Tips to Stay Safe

You can help make sure you get the right medicine the right way during your hospital stay by doing the following:


Petty BG. Principles of evidence-based prescribing. In: McKean SC, Ross JJ, Dressler DD, Brotman DJ, Ginsberg JS, eds. Principles and Practice of Hospital Medicine. 2nd ed. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill Education; 2017:chap 11.

Wachter RM. Quality of care and patient safety. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman-Cecil Medicine. 25th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2016:chap 12.

Review Date: 2/18/2018
Reviewed By: Laura J. Martin, MD, MPH, ABIM Board Certified in Internal Medicine and Hospice and Palliative Medicine, Atlanta, GA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.