Archive May 2017 XVIII, No. 5

Thinking of Buying ... Medication Safety Products and Devices

It's time to stop blaming, and start implementing available solutions.

Eugene Viscusi

Eugene Viscusi, MD


No one knows how often medication errors happen. A few studies suggest they're frighteningly frequent, but as long as we rely on an honor system of self-reporting — and point fingers at those who confess — we can guess that vast numbers of errors are going to continue going unreported. People who fear reprisals or punishments aren't likely to own up every time something happens.

Medication errors happen, in part at least, because, as we all know, the operating room is a very complicated place. We're surrounded by equipment and noise, and often the room is dimly lit. It's also a high-stress environment, which increases the potential for errors. But I'd bet that in many cases, very similar types of drug errors may be occurring again and again within the same institution, and that relatively simple solutions exist to correct at least some of those errors — if only they were reported. As such, we should be encouraging reporting in a blameless society, so we can do root-cause analyses and implement the solutions we need.

For several years, the Anesthesia Patient Safety Foundation has advocated using point-of-care scanners to confirm and document every drug administration. So far, a relatively small number of facilities have adopted that approach, but many seem to be moving in that direction.

Meanwhile, it's a little shocking how few providers are aware of USP-797 and its implications on point-of-care drug compounding. USP- 797, the only chapter of the U.S. Pharmacopeia that applies to individuals compounding drugs, makes it very clear: Except in emergencies, syringes should be filled only in a sterile environment under a laminar flow hood. So the trend toward prefilled syringes is a big step in the right direction. Not only are they USP 797-compliant, but they also have a very long shelf life, typically 30 to 45 days. While they may cost a little more upfront, in the long run they're likely to save money, because they waste less medication.

New to Outpatient Surgery Magazine?
Sign-up to continue reading this article.
Register Now
Have an account? Please log in:
Email Address:
  Remember my login on this computer

advertiser banner

Other Articles That May Interest You

A Strong Culture of Safety Begins With Leadership

The Joint Commission outlines what healthcare leaders must do to promote and support safe practices.

Chicago Hospital Sues Leapfrog for Defamation Over Low Patient Safety Grade

Saint Anthony Hospital of Chicago claims the ratings group incorrectly assessed the hospital, which lowered its patient safety grade from an A to a C.

You Can't Count on Counts Alone

Preventing retained objects not as easy as 1-2-3.