Archive August 2017 XVIII, No. 8

Are Prefilled Syringes Worth It?

Yes, you'll spend more, but you'll waste less medication and you'll spend less time drawing it up and labeling it.

Johnathan Stinnett

Johnathan Stinnett

BIO

Joshua Montney

Joshua Montney

BIO

medications drawn up and labeled COST OF CONVENIENCE What's it worth to have your medications already drawn up and labeled?

For a small physician-owned surgical hospital like ours, prefilled syringes make perfect sense. They might for your facility, too. First, though, you'll have to figure out the math. Because you'll almost always pay more when you buy drugs in premixed, prelabeled syringes, compared with traditional vials. For those who can't see past the price tag, this is where the conversation ends. But if you step back and consider the many benefits you'll receive in exchange, prefilled syringes might seem like quite the bargain.

Convenience. For starters, there's the convenience and time savings of having your medications already drawn up and diluted to the concentration you specify, and already labeled with name, date of expiration, concentration of drug and total amount of drug. It can easily take 45 minutes to draw up and label syringes from multidose vials. We're the only full-time pharmacy employees at our hospital, so not having to spend time drawing and diluting the drugs, and signing and affixing the labels, frees us up to focus on our many other responsibilities.

Safety. Then there's safety. Many medication errors occur at the point of drawing up medication from identical-looking vials. Because the medication is already premeasured and drawn up and ready to go, you'll drastically reduce the potential for human errors in calculating dose and concentration. You'll also remove the possibility of vial splitting and cross-contamination. You don't want your docs to use a single-dose vial for multiple vials, but we all know that physicians routinely split vials rather than waste expensive drugs. We once knew a doctor who would draw up 10 mL of neostigmine and put it in his pocket (unlabeled!). He'd give 3 mL to Patient A, go get a snack in the cafeteria and then pull the same syringe out of his pocket and give Patient B the same medication.

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