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Published on September 22, 2006

Local Hospitals Safeguard Against Medication Errors

September 22, 2006

At Kishwaukee and Valley West Community Hospitals, many precautions are taken each time a medication is administered to a patient in order to prevent medication errors.

“In light of recent news accounts of a tragic medication error at an Indianapolis hospital, we want the public to know that KCH and VWCH have many safeguards in place to guard against and prevent medication errors,” said Brad Copple, KCH and VWCH administrator.

A Medication Safety Team audits current practices, policies and procedures within the hospital and makes recommendations to improve the system. Both hospitals also have a double-check system for all medication dispensing and administration.
For all high risk medications, such as Heparin, a pharmacist and a pharmacy technician must verify the drug and dosage prior to placing in the automated dispensing unit. Two nurses then verify that they have the correct patient, drug, dosage, route, and time prior to actual administration of the drug.

Both hospitals have a non-punitive reporting system in place for employees to report all near mishaps and occurrences regarding medication dispensing. This system allows the Medication Safety Team to review why the incident occurred or almost occurred without holding fault on employees.

“Upon review, changes are made to continually improve the safety of our medication administration. The non-punitive culture is important to the discovery of problem processes,” said Pamela Duffy, Vice President, Patient Care and Medical Staff Services.

“We pride ourselves on focusing intently on the processes to support a safe environment at all levels of the organization,” Duffy said.

She said most often errors occur in the prescribing of medications, transcription of the prescription, dispensing or administration of the medication. Both hospitals avoid errors in these areas through the use of the double check verification system.

“The importance of double checking is why patients are frequently asked their name or if they have an allergy, to constantly verify information in the patient’s record.“We also have implemented medication reconciliation, a process where we work closely with the doctors to reconcile the patient’s medication history with the physician’s medication orders. We want to make sure patients receive all the medications they should and none that they shouldn’t.”

In addition, Bedside Medication Verification (BMV) is coming to Kishwaukee and Valley West hospitals in early spring.

This new system will even further protect against medication errors by allowing caregivers to utilize bar code scanning technology prior to administering medications.

This technology will allow nurses to confirm patient identity and medication information against data readily available through the online Medication Administration Record.

The use of bar code scanning increases accuracy and efficiency in medication administration.

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