Friday, September 08, 2006

New medication safety effort underway

Backus Hospital this week initiated a new medication safety protocol, an effort to enhance patient safety in an area that typically is a problem nationwide.

The medication reconciliation process -– which according to the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Health Care Organizations (JCAHO) must include a review of patients’ medications at the time of admission, during transfers of level of care and at discharge -– will more efficiently analyze patients’ medications that they take at home with new medications prescribed in the hospital setting.

To help streamline the process, the sheet printed daily by the Pharmacy has been replaced by a Medication Reconciliation sheet, which provides a list of current inpatient medications, medications taken by the patient prior to arrival, and check-off boxes for continuation, discontinuation or change in order.

The sheet must be completed within 24 hours of admission and signed by a physician, and should also be used in all transfer situations in which a rewrite of orders is required, such as postoperatively or transfer from a Critical Care Unit bed to a floor bed.

Coupled with the Hospital’s new Pharmacy and robotic dispensing system, the new medication reconciliation process, which was implemented Sept. 5, will help lessen the chance of medication errors, and is part of ongoing efforts to provide the best care possible for Backus patients, said Peter Shea, MD, Medical Director.

Karen Long, RN, Vice President and Chief Nursing Officer, said abiding by the new medication protocol is an important way for clinical staff to improve patient care, and avoid preventable errors that persist in hospitals nationwide. Medication errors injure 1.5 million people annually, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, and lead to billions of dollars in extra costs for treatment.

Eric Arlia, RPh, Pharmacy Director, said the medication reconciliation sheet will also help at the time of discharge, because medication regimens are sometimes tweaked during hospital stays and need to be changed back when the patient goes home. He added that there will be fewer rewritten orders and data entry points, which decreases the possibility of bad handwriting or an incorrect key stroke negatively impacting patient safety.

“This is going to help our physicians, nurses, pharmacists, unit coordinators and patients,” Mr. Arlia said.

Mary Bylone, RN, Assistant Vice President of Patient Care Services and Patient Safety Officer, thanked everyone involved with making this project a reality, especially Mr. Arlia and Michael Smith of the Pharmacy, Linda Bravard and Chris Bove-Smart of Clinical Informatics and Michael Cushing of MIS. She added that Backus will continue to test and improve its patient safety processes on an ongoing basis.

Anyone with questions about the JCAHO National Patient Safety Goals, or suggestions to improve patient safety at Backus, is asked to call Ms. Bylone at ext. 2771 or Joe Hughes, Director of Quality Improvement, at 860-889-8331 ext. 2345.


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