5 New Best Practices for Medication Safety All Hospital Pharmacists Should Know

JUNE 16, 2016
Allison Gilchrist, Associate Editor
The Institute for Safe Medication Practices (ISMP) recently added new best practices for improving patient safety in hospitals.
According to ISMP, the purpose of the 2016-2017 Targeted Medication Safety Best Practices for Hospitals is to “identify, inspire, and mobilize widespread national adoption of consensus-based best practices on specific medication safety issues that continue to cause fatal and harmful errors in patients, despite repeated warnings in ISMP publications.”
Health-system pharmacists should get familiarized with the following 5 best practices in order to promote patient safety in their hospitals:
1. Segregate, sequester, and differentiate all neuromuscular blocking (NMB) agents from other medications, wherever they’re stored in the organization.
In a lecture devoted to the new best practices, Darryl S. Rich, PharmD, MBA, FASHP, a medication safety specialist at ISMP, noted that the organization has received more than 100 reports of accidental administration of NMBs in recent years. Specifically, he said, inadequate labeling and unsafe storage have been the “root cause of most of these errors.”
As of February 2016, 54% of health-systems report partially implementing this practice.
2. Administer high-alert intravenous (IV) medication infusions through a programmable infusion pump using dose error-reduction software.
This practice applies to both inpatient and outpatient hospital settings and in all situations in which high alert medications are infused by the IV route (eg, anesthesia, patient-controlled analgesia).
Additionally, health-systems should:
·      Ensure dose error-reduction software is employed on all smart pumps
·      Verify that drug libraries are built and installed on all smart pumps, and make sure staff is using the error-reduction software
·      Require periodic maintenance, updating, and testing of the software
·      Evaluate alerts regularly