Aims: To understand the medication administration process in residential aged care homes.
Background: Understanding actual processes that nurses follow is critical to guide improvement efforts and to develop robust systems to ensure safety in medication administration.
Methods: Seven nurses were observed for 12 morning medication rounds at two units of a residential aged care home in Australia. Observations were guided by an activity theoretical framework.
Results: Nurses followed a common work process to administer medication. This process included actions from preparing medication trolley, locating a resident, preparing and administering medication to this person, documenting the administration, to finally checking medication charts to ensure all residents received medication. We identified 15 process deviations that may hinder safe medication administration. Electronic medication administration records appeared to be able to prevent a deviation associated with the paper‐based documentation process.
Conclusions: This study elaborated the medication administration process in a residential aged care home and identified process deviations. It suggests a safety checklist that can be used to evaluate nursing practice and improve medication administration process.
Implication for Nursing Management: To develop robust systems for medication safety, nursing managers need to understand the actual nursing process, identify process deviations, and investigate the context in which these deviations occur.