Archive January 2017 XVIII, No. 1

Are Prefilled Syringes Worth It?

Weighing the pros and cons of ready-to-administer compounded drugs.

Bill Donahue, Senior Editor


prefilled syringes WASTE NOT The potential benefits of prefilled syringes include improved safety, reduced waste and labor savings.

Are ready-to-use prefilled medications from compounding pharmacies a wise investment for your surgical facility? Coming up with the answer requires some thoughtful introspection, says Becki Allen, RN, CNOR, the nurse administrator at Apollo Surgery Center in West Melbourne, Fla.

About a year ago, Apollo Surgery Center decided to adopt a handful of anesthesia and emergency medications as prefilled syringes from a compounding pharmacy — atropine, ephedrine and succinylcholine, specifically. Safety was the key motivating factor in the decision, says Ms. Allen.

"Prefilled syringes ensure that we use one syringe for each patient every time, that we're not 'double dipping,' which could lead to an infection," she says. "This keeps us out of the danger zone. Our staff and anesthesiologist say it saves them time."

Likewise, patient safety is the No. 1 consideration for Debbie Beissel, RN, in the conversation surrounding prefilled syringes. Ms. Beissel, the CEO of the Surgical Institute of Reading (Pa.), also takes into account a host of other factors, including infection control, labeling compliance and the elimination of dosing errors, as well as reducing needlestick injuries to staff.

"From a nurse's standpoint, it is certainly nice if everything is individualized," says Ms. Beissel. "It's obviously fewer steps for the staff, and there's less of a chance of having any compromises to the vial or syringe."

Each color-coded syringe features "tall man" lettering to help staff distinguish between medications that look or sound alike, which Ms. Allen says further reduces the risk of compromising patient safety. Pharmacy consultant John Karwoski, RPh, MBA, says prefilled syringes' clear labeling and tamper-resistant packaging minimize the risk to patients and the exposure to surgical facility leaders.

"It's getting tougher and tougher to control, because of demands on time, with the nurse or the CRNA or the anesthesiologist expected to do so much these days," says Mr. Karwoski. "It's a question of: What is the standard of care coming to? That's why I think we're at the cusp now of seeing [prefilled syringes] becoming more mainstream."

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