8 Steps to Prevent Medication Errors in Surgery Centers

Medication Errors are an adverse event that occurs too often in ambulatory surgery centers, says W. Jan Allison, RN, CHSP, director of accreditation and survey readiness, clinical services department, for Surgical Care Affiliates. "Because teammates work in a hurried and pressure-ridden environment, they are at risk for errors," she says.


Ms. Allison identifies the following eight steps from the Institute for Safe Medication Practices that are critical to avoid medication errors.


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1. Obtain patient-specific information. Obtain and have available the patient's age, weight and clinical information at time of medication prescribing, ordering, preparation and administration, she says.


2. Acquire a "drug book" and make sure it's readily available. Have drug information accessible, up-to-date and current so teammates have the information available about the medications they are administering. This way, "if the nurses are not familiar with a medication, they can look it up," Ms. Allison says.


3. Ensure a medication order is complete and clearly written. "Miscommunication is a common cause of medication errors," she says. "Nurses need to remember that it is their duty to question physician orders that are illegible, incomplete, or potentially unsafe. Clarify all orders and verbal orders must be written down and read back. Follow guidelines for approved 'abbreviations' when documenting dosages."


4. Use labels and follow rules. Make sure to appropriately label and follow the proper use of unit dose systems.


5. Work to standardize. Standardize drug administration times, drug concentrations and limit the dose concentration of drugs available in patient care areas.


6. Assess and ensure an appropriate environment when preparing medications. "Environmental factors include poor lighting, noise, interruptions and a significant workload," she says. "Nurses need to be mindful when administering medications; they need to avoid complacency and step away from the distractions of a busy work place to give due attention to the serious job of medication administration. There is a limit to the sensory input a person can handle. Nurses have the right to stop, think and give medication administration their full attention."


7. Educate and perform competency assessments of nurses who prepare medications. "These need to be done regularly," Ms. Allison says. "Also, educate patients about the medications they are receiving so they can play a role in preventing medication errors."


8. Include medication safety as part of your quality program. "Dig into determining the root cause of medication errors so that processes can be corrected to minimize the risk of the error re-occurring," she says. "Creating solutions should include those who administer medications. Conduct a proactive risk assessment instead of waiting to react when a medication error occurs." Make sure you evaluate your current medication processes and identify where risks exist. Focus on prevention and what can be done to minimize mistakes.


Learn more about Surgical Care Affiliates.

More Articles Featuring Surgical Care Affiliates:

Guidance to Prevent Adverse Events in Surgery Centers: Wrong-Site Surgery

7 Predictions From ASC Physicians on the Future of Surgery Center Physician Ownership

Future of Physician-Owned Facilities: Q&A With Dr. Jeff Hessing of Treasure Valley Hospital and SCA

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