Med Safety: Technology & Other Interventions

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This is not the first nor will be the last Management Tip to discuss medication safety. After all, ensuring the safety of patients is ultimately job #1 and is the reason that boards of pharmacy and many professional organizations even exist. Medication safety and patient safety are such comprehensive and broad concepts that we can afford to look at them from a variety of angles. This Tip looks concurrently at a number of tools and strategies available to pharmacists and pharmacy managers.

Nguyen et al conducted a systematic review of interventions to reduce medication errors in neonatal care.1 It has been demonstrated that neonates are more likely to incur medication errors as a result of very narrow dosage ranges, more intricate calculations of dosing, use of off-label therapeutic regimens, and other factors. The review found a considerable number of interventions that included the use of technology (eg, computerized physician order entry, smart infusion pumps, parenteral nutrition calculators), organizational (eg, education around error prevention, promotion of a safety-focused organizational culture), medication distribution and supply (eg, prediluted medications for administration), guidelines/policies, and specific pharmacist-led interventions such as dedicated clinical pharmacist activities. The results of most studies examined in this review demonstrated a positive impact (error reduction, improved safety). The review thusly concluded that there are a number of ways to improve medication safety for neonates, and that more often than not interventions that approached the situation from multiple angles were the most effective.

Pharmacy managers need not, in fact should not look for just one solution to improve medication safety. They have a number of tools and potential strategies at their disposal, including but not limited to clinical pharmacist interventions, careful implementation of technology, and evaluation of materials used in the preparation of drug products. Pharmacy managers can promote a culture of safety in policy and in deploying multiple strategies. These are prescriptions that are good for the patient and good for the pharmacy business.

Additional information about Preventing and Managing Medication Errors: The Pharmacist's Role can be found in Pharmacy Management: Essentials for All Practice Settings, 4e. If you or your institution subscribes to AccessPharmacy, use or create your MyAccess Profile to sign-in to Pharmacy Management: Essentials for All Practice Settings, 4e. If your institution does not provide access, ask your medical librarian about subscribing.

1Nguyen NMR, Mosel C, Grzeskowiak LE. Interventions to reduce medication errors in neotal care: A systematic review. Ther Adv Drug Saf. 2018;9:123-155.

Shane Desselle

Professor of Social and Behavioral Pharmacy, Touro University California


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over 2 years ago

Does even so much as the purchase of certain technology promote a med safest culture?