People that regularly take prescription medicine or have received prescription medication in a hospital or clinic setting can appreciate the vital importance of best practices when it comes to receiving medicine. Whether it is at the pharmacy or in the hospital, it is essential to be aware of safety measures that could make a major difference in the care you receive. Every patient deserves peace of mind when it comes to their medications, and to live free of the consequences of medical and pharmaceutical malpractice.
How Common Are Medication Mistakes?
Incorrect or erroneous distribution or application of medications is surprisingly present in the United States. In fact, some sources cite a rate of one in five Americans experiencing a medical error while receiving health treatment. Unfortunately, Maryland is no exception to this trend, and Maryland residents should be aware of emerging best practices in the face of the increased computerization of pharmacies and hospital medication cabinets.
Emerging Best Practices to Reduce Harm
According to a recent news report from the pharmaceutical safety experts of the Institute for Safe Medication Practices (ISMP), three new major best practices have emerged to reduce harm when it comes to the dispensing of medication. The three new recommended practices are as follows:
Safeguarding against oxytocin errors. Oxytocin and its analogs are commonly administered for induction and augmentation of labor as well as to prevent and treat postpartum bleeding. When prescribed improperly, it can cause hyperstimulation of the uterus, potentially resulting in fetal distress and the need for an emergency cesarean delivery. Issues in the administration of oxytocin commonly revolve around preparation and storage, IV administration, and communication and documentation. The ISMP recommendations incorporate five parts, including the goal of standardizing the approach to labor induction/augmentation and control of postpartum bleeding. Using standardized order sets for both can eliminate some common issues.
Maximize the use of barcode verification prior to medication and vaccine administration by expanding use beyond inpatient care areas. Similar packaging for different medications is an intuitive but also a significant contributing factor when it comes to medication safety. Barcode verification of both patients and medications is relatively common when it comes to inpatient locations, in less formal settings such as ambulances, emergency rooms, and dialysis centers, such practices are less prevalent. The ISMP recommendations focus on targeting clinical areas and fields with an increased likelihood of a short or limited patient stay, for this type of barcode matching practice.
Layer numerous strategies throughout the medication-use process to improve safety with high-alert medications. High-alert medications have a heightened risk of causing significant patient harm if there is an error in administration. Despite the heightened risk presented by high-alert medications, very few fields and points of distribution address the entire medication-use process when it comes to preventive steps. The ISMP best practices have an emphasis on including higher-level efforts, including forcing functions through which a hard stop is implemented to prevent people from making errors. Additionally, Patient education is an important but often forgotten aspect of medication safety that cannot go overlooked and must be engaged with deliberately and thoughtfully when it comes to high-alert medication.
Do You Need a Maryland Pharmacy Error Attorney?
If you or someone you know was recently injured or killed by a pharmacy or medication dispensing error, contact the attorneys at Lebowitz & Mzhen today for assistance. Our attorneys have years of experience advocating for the injured and will work to get you the compensation you deserve. To schedule a free and confidential consultation today, contact us at 800-654-1949.