Drug name game in national nursing award

pills-hesta-nursing-awards-story-may-2012A computer game designed by staff from Flinders University to help student nurses avoid potentially life-threatening drug mix-ups has made it to the finals of the 2012 HESTA Australian Nursing Awards.

“Medicina” – an online game created by Flinders School of Nursing and Midwifery staff members Dr Amanda Muller, Gregory Mathews and Didy Button to boost student nurses’ knowledge of medication names – is one of five projects in the running for the national Innovation in Nursing prize.

The trio will be up against five other nominees for the Innovation in Nursing prize, including fellow Flinders Nursing and Midwifery lecturer Wendy Abigail, who has been nominated for her various work to promote contraception for middle-aged women, and Flinders nursing graduate David Copley.

Mr Copley is the first Aboriginal person to complete a Graduate Diploma in Mental Health Nursing in South Australia – is also a finalist in the Nurse of the Year category for his work to help reduce smoking rates in Indigenous communities.

A cancer survivor, Aboriginal Elder and Quitline liaison officer, Mr Copley has helped double the number of Aboriginal clients calling the Quitline in just 12 months through his training and support to Aboriginal health providers and their clients, including providing cultural training to Quitline staff to help them better understand Aboriginal communities and the causes of their smoking.

The online game Medicina, which simulates the distractions and urgency of a real hospital environment, targets listening and reading skills to improve the accuracy of drug orders taken over the phone, help students to identify the right drug on the medicine shelf and to use good communication skills in handover.

Dr Muller, an associate lecturer from the School of Nursing and Midwifery, said Medicina was developed to reduce instances of medication confusion that could potentially leave lives at risk.

“There are many reasons why medications get confused, sometimes it’s because the nurse has misheard a drug name or they can’t read someone else’s handwriting, and other times it’s because they have trouble with pronunciation,” Dr Muller said.

“Some medications are uncommon and while students are likely to see the word written during their degrees, they rarely get to hear the word spoken aloud so this may cause confusion when they are in a clinical setting,” she said.

“But Medicina uses a number of different animated features to replicate a real clinical setting, including time limitations, to best prepare students for the real deal.”

Originally released in 2011 to support nursing students with English as a second language, Dr Muller said native English speakers often also needed help to familiarise themselves with drug names.

“Our research has shown that Medicina not only boosts a nurse’s knowledge of uncommon words but also teaches them new listening skills and improves their overall ability to retain specific information in hard listening environments,” she said.

“These, of course, are skills that anyone can benefit from, no matter how good their communication skills might be.”

Ms Button, a lecturer in Nursing, said the team eventually hoped to turn Medicina into a phone application and include additional stages with varying levels of difficulty so students, new nurses and established nursing professionals could hone their skills.

“The idea is to promote patient safety and increase the fluency of drug pronunciation in a way that’s engaging, entertaining and informative,” Ms Button, who provided clinical and audio support to the project, said.

“It’s designed to be easy to use and easy to use casually, so people can play it when they have spare time,” added Mr Mathews, media designer from the school and the game’s co-designer.”

The top entry in the 2012 HESTA Australian Nursing Awards will receive a $10,000 grant to develop their service or program, with winners announced at a ceremony in Melbourne on May 10.

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