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Sederstrom J.
Medication errors continue to be a worldwide patient safety challenge that requires both systems and individual practice strategies for improvement. This magazine article describes how pharmacists can address failures associated with processing, dosing, care transitions, and information sharing to prevent medication errors.
Drawn on a Thursday, basic labs for a 10-year-old girl came back over the weekend showing a high glucose level, but neither the covering physician nor the primary pediatrician saw the results until the patient's mother called on Monday. Upon return to the clinic for follow-up, the child's glucose level was dangerously high and urinalysis showed early signs of diabetic ketoacidosis.
A powerful anti-clotting medication is ordered for a patient admitted for coronary intervention. Due to a forcing function in the computer order entry system, the intern enters an arbitrary maintenance infusion rate, assuming that the pharmacy will fix it if it is wrong. The pharmacy dispenses it as written, and the nurse administers it—underdosing the patient by a factor of 40.
Lo HG, Matheny ME, Seger DL, et al. J Am Med Inform Assoc. 2009;16:66-71.
"Alert fatigue" refers to the tendency of clinicians to ignore safety alerts—for example, warnings about potential drug interactions—if alerts are too frequent or perceived to be clinically irrelevant. However, in this study, less intrusive alerts that did not require physician response were not effective at encouraging use of recommended laboratory monitoring.