"Use of Handheld Technology (PDA) and Reduction in Medication Errors"

The purpose of this pilot study was to determine if nursing students could calculate medications in a case study with greater speed and accuracy using a personal digital assistant (PDA) compared to students using textbooks and a calculator thereby reducing medication errors. Medication errors are a major cause of harm to patients in health care settings and reducing medication errors is a main concern in today's healthcare setting. Nurses are the main professionals involved in administering medications and administration is the part of the medication process with the least safeguards in place. Information technology, especially handheld technology (PDAs) used by nursing students can provide access to information to safely calculate medications. The use of handheld technology in the nursing curriculum would introduce students to the habit of using technology for safe practice. This technology will eventually help the practicing nurse to spend more time on patient care and have access to the most current information. Health care employers are also expecting graduate nurses to have the latest information technology skills. Mobile devices like the PDA can open a door of lifetime learning, as students are capable of moving from one learning environment to another. The next step in this project is to replicate the study using a larger sample and use an actual medication administration scenario to replicate the stress of medication preparation that may contribute to medication errors. One manuscript has been published in the UPNAAI Nursing Journal.