Archive April 2018 XIX, No. 4

6 Hot Trends in Medication Safety

Add these technologies to protect your patients and staff from drug-related harm.

JoEllen McBride

JoEllen McBride, PhD


Single Use
SINGLE USE Prefilled syringes are designed to give the right dose every time without risk of cross contamination.

Look around your facility. Can you spot the exhausted nurse who's about to administer the wrong medication to the 6-year-old patient? Did you know your anesthesia tech just swiped a vial of fentanyl to feed his hidden drug addiction? Of course not, but the following technologies can provide you some peace of mind by keeping your medications organized and secure, and by helping to ensure the right dose is administered to the right patient at the right time.

1. "Smart" IV pumps

Smart pumps
EASY PICKINGS Automated dispensing cabinets keep drugs secure and help staff identify the medications needed by individual patents.

Newer IV pumps contain a library of your facility's drugs and can be programmed with hard and soft limits, which reduce errors associated with the manual programming of pumps, says Michelle Mandrack, MSN, RN, director of consulting services at the Institute for Safe Medication Practices (ISMP) in Horsham, Pa.

The limits built into the drug library help you recognize a potential error if you accidentally put in a rate or dose that exceeds the preprogrammed limits, explains Ms. Mandrack. However, there are some common errors that can still occur with these devices. You still have to manually go through the device's library and choose the correct medication. You then have to input the dose and rate by hand.

"There are now systems available in which 'smart' pumps are integrated with the EMR," says Ms. Mandrack "In these systems, the electronic medication order containing the infusion parameters is verified by pharmacy and then, through barcode scanning, pre-populated in the smart pump." The systems ensure that the correct information is sent to the smart pump, which then sends information back to the EMR to document intake and how much medication is being used.

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