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Medication Errors Medication errors can occur at many points in a highly complex process, involving many hands and decision points, from prescribing and.

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Presentation on theme: "Medication Errors Medication errors can occur at many points in a highly complex process, involving many hands and decision points, from prescribing and."— Presentation transcript:

1 Medication Errors Medication errors can occur at many points in a highly complex process, involving many hands and decision points, from prescribing and ordering through administration and monitoring. Medication errors may or may not result in an adverse event.


3 ERROR THEORY Error theory tells us that errors are common, and more so in complex systems. Preventing medication errors demands a mental balance of commitment to a zero error standard (knowing that the goal is unachievable) and a recognition of the inherent toxicities and risks associated with medication use. Unfortunately in an organization where there is unwillingness to accept that healthcare workers are human and make mistakes, the result is an environment where errors are hidden and denied. The end result is finding a focus of blame, rather than understanding why the error occurred and how to prevent its occurrence in the future.

Practitioner knowledge of the drug and access to current and up-to-date resources Labeling packaging and nomenclature anomalies (e.g. look-alike packages, strength confused with vial size, etc) Dosing errors Access to adequate patient information and skills and methods to provide information/access Accuracy of order transcription, including interpretation and action when a gap exists Adequate allergy information and active use of that information Medication order accuracy and tracking Communication with patient and other health professionals, including, but not limited to, patient and family education regarding potential adverse effects, proper dosage or noncompliance Minimize influence of environmental factors (e.g., drug storage/stocking, noise and distractions, adequate workspace)

5 CASE STUDY MS was a healthy, seven-pound (3.2kg) newborn whose mother had a history of syphilis. A language barrier existed, and it was difficult to determine if she had been treated properly or if the infection persisted. Shortly after MS' birth a neonatologist was consulted, and it was determined that the infant should be treated for the infection due to the uncertainty of whether or not he had been exposed to syphilis. An infectious disease specialist was consulted on how MS should be treated and he recommended penicillin G benzathine 50,000units/kg to be given intramuscularly. A second consultation confirmed this recommendation, and the order was recorded and sent to the pharmacy for processing. A dose of 1,500,000 units of penicillin G benzathine was dispensed to the nursing unit for MS. The dose was given IV, and MS died before the entire dose was administered. After a thorough investigation, over 50 shortcomings in the system were identified that, if corrected, could have prevented the death of MS. Investigators determined that the most lethal mistake was the change in the route of administration from IM to IV, and as a result, the three nurses involved were charged with negligent homicide. If the tenfold overdose dispensed by a pharmacist had been determined to be lethal if given IM, the pharmacist would also have been charged with negligent homicide.

6 Even though obvious errors occurred, a system should be designed in such a way to recognize these mistakes before administration. The nurses involved included a nurse practitioner that mistakenly thought it was within her job description to be able to change the route of administration if it was in the best interest of the patient. However, she failed to check with a pharmacist or physician before doing so. She did check a reference book, which did not specifically mention penicillin G benzathine with respect to IV administration. Since penicillin G can be administered IV, it was interpreted that benzathine was a trade name and it was assumed to be the same thing. The nurses also had not been properly educated about not administering any cloudy IV fluids (with the exception of fat emulsions). The appearance of the injection should have prompted them to check with a pharmacist before administering the medication intravenously. A computer system that detects high doses in pediatric patients would have been able to catch the high dose that was dispensed, or at least let the pharmacist know that this dose would require five injections to the infant. Finally, simply adding "For IM Use Only" on the pharmacy label would have ended any discussion of changing the route of administration.

7 WHAT YOU CAN DO A safety culture demands that systems and process be designed to eliminate the likelihood of error. Systems must be examined, evaluated and simplified. Too often they have "evolved" and make little sense in today's practice environment. In standardizing processes, simplification and reduction of steps, elimination of transcription, reduction in handoffs within the process, and the use of preprinted orders are essential. Reliance on memory should be minimized and access to supportive information resources increased and encouraged. Standards, guidelines and protocols must be developed, and more importantly, adopted for widespread use. All too often, our healthcare culture is simultaneously over-accepting of the likelihood of errors occurring, and unforgiving of those in line for the blame. Each of us bears responsibility and should be accountable for ensuring safety in the system.

Separate or secure high-risk or hazardous substances. Evaluate location of medication stock and inventory methods. Place ophthalmic, oral, inhalational, injectable and other distinct product types in specific areas within the pharmacy. Ensure that expiration dates are checked routinely. Separate look-alike and sound-alike medications and provide redundant labels and warnings as reminders. Evaluate product labeling (e.g. font size, clutter, color) for products purchased, dispensed and repackaged in order to assure that the user can easily read information. Determine standards for dosages and concentrations of products purchased and provided to patients in order to minimize variation and the potential for error. Report and identify product and packaging problems to the supplier.

Use reminders and redundancy in the prescription checking and labeling process (e.g. standardized labeling requirements). Assure consistent method for final checks of product; consider routine use of two-person check for any dispensed prescription. Provide adequate references for use by staff and patients and assure that these are updated. Identify opportunities to reduce distractions in the department (e.g. provide adequate space, reduce potential for unnecessary traffic and interruptions).

10 PATIENT EDUCATION Review prescription use with patient as a component of the final check. Ensure patient receives counseling regarding the safe and effective use of each prescribed medication. Encourage patients to ask questions. Assess patient's level of understanding of medication information provided. Confirm what information the prescriber presented and identify gaps and opportunities for reinforcement.

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