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Institute for Safe Medication Practices

The perioperative setting is a high-risk area for medication errors, should they occur. This assessment provides hospitals and outpatient surgical providers a tool to examine their medication use processes and share data nationwide for comparison. Organizational participation can identify strengths and gaps in their systems to design opportunities that prevent patient harm. The deadline for submitting data is February 11, 2022.
Vaughan CP, Hwang U, Vandenberg AE, et al. BMJ Open Qual. 2021;10(4):e001369.
Prescribing potentially inappropriate medications (such as antihistamines, benzodiazepines, and muscle relaxants) can lead to adverse health outcomes. The Enhancing Quality of Prescribing Practices for Older Adults in the Emergency Department (EQUIPPED) program is a multicomponent intervention intended to reduce potentially inappropriate prescribing among older adults who are discharged from the emergency department. Twelve months after implementation at three academic health systems, the EQUIPPED program significantly reduced overall potentially inappropriate prescribing at one site; the proportion of benzodiazepine prescriptions decreased across all sites.
Mekonnen AB, Redley B, Courten B, et al. Br J Clin Pharmacol. 2021;87(11):4150-4172.
Potentially inappropriate prescribing in older adults can result in medication-related harm. This systematic review of 63 studies found that potentially inappropriate prescribing was significantly associated with several system-related and health-related outcomes for older adults, including mortality, readmissions, adverse drug events, and functional decline.

The medication-use process is highly complex with many steps and risk points for error, and those errors are a key target for improving safety. This Library reflects a curated selection of PSNet content focused on medication and drug errors. Included resources explore understanding harms from preventable medication use, medication safety improvement strategies, and resources for design.

Al Rowily A, Jalal Z, Price MJ, et al. Eur J Clin Pharmacol. 2021;Epub Dec 22.
Although direct acting oral anticoagulants (DAOCs) are generally considered safer than older anticoagulants, they are still high-risk medications. This review found that between 5.3% and 37.3% of patients experienced either a prescription, administration, or dosing error. Prescribing errors constituted the majority of error types, and common causes were active failures, including wrong drug or wrong dose.

Institute for Safe Medication Practices. Medication Safety Alerts. January 3, 2022.

Emerging care practices can produce unsafe situations due to the newness of the approaches involved. This alert highlights safety considerations with an oral antiretroviral COVID treatment that include medication administration problems. Safety recommendations are provided for prescribers and pharmacists.
Rockville, MD: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.
In this annual publication, AHRQ reviews the results of the National Healthcare Quality Report and National Healthcare Disparities Report. This 2021 report highlights that a wide range of quality measures have shown improvement in quality, access, and cost.
Anand TV, Wallace BK, Chase HS. BMC Geriatr. 2021;21(1):648.
Older adults, particularly those taking more than one medication, are at increased risk of adverse drug events (ADE). In this study of 6,545 older adult patients who were prescribed at least 3 medications, multidrug interactions (MDI) were identified in 1.3% of medication lists. Psychotropic medications were the most commonly involved medication class; the most common serious ADE were serotonin syndrome, seizures, prolonged QT interval, and bleeding.

Uttaro E, Zhao F, Schweighardt A. Int J Pharm Compd. 2021;25(5):364-371. 

Medication administration, particularly when it involves drug formulation manipulation, is a complex process. This study analyzed the products included on the Institute for Safe Medication Practices’ (ISMP) ‘Do Not Crush List’ and found that many presented no risk or low risk for crushing. The authors provide recommendations for clinicians to aid in clinical decision-making regarding crushing, such as suitable personal protective equipment and prompt administration.
Weber L, Schulze I, Jaehde U. Res Social Adm Pharm. 2021;Epub Nov 18.
Chemotherapy administration errors can result in serious patient harm. Using failure mode and effects analysis (FMEA), researchers identified potential failures related to the medication process for intravenous chemotherapy. Common failures included incorrect patient information, non-standardized chemotherapy protocols, and problems related to supportive therapy.
Ciapponi A, Fernandez Nievas SE, Seijo M, et al. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2021;11(11):CD009985.
Medication errors can lead to harm in hospitalized patients including increased length of stay, lower quality of life, increased morbidity, and even death. This review of 65 studies and 110,875 patients examined interventions (primarily medication reconciliation) and their effect on reducing adverse drug events. Findings revealed mostly low to moderate certainty about the effectiveness of medication reconciliation and low certainty on other interventions, emphasizing the importance of research that has greater power and is methodologically sound.
Jomaa C, Dubois C‐A, Caron I, et al. J Adv Nurs. 2021;Epub Nov 30.
Nurses play a critical role in ensuring patient safety. This study explored the association between the organization of nursing services and patient safety incidents in rehabilitation units. Findings highlight the key role of appropriate nurse staffing in reducing the incidence of events such as falls and medication errors
Wallis KA, Elley CR, Moyes SA, et al. BJGP Open. 2021;Epub Oct 15.
Common high-risk medications such as antiplatelets and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) have the potential to cause serious patient harm. This randomized trial examined the usefulness of an existing intervention to support safer prescribing in general practice to improve safe high-risk prescribing.

National Alert Network. Horsham, PA: Institute for Safe Medication Practices; Bethesda, MD: American Society of Health-System Pharmacists. December 6, 2021. 

Vaccine missteps are known to occur during flu and COVID-19 inoculation efforts. This announcement raises awareness of misadministration of COVID vaccines associated with patient age. It highlights storage protocols as one approach to minimize mistakes. This alert is part of a national program to distribute learnings from report analysis to improve medication safety.

Ruskin KJ, ed. Curr Opin Anaesthesiol. 2021;34(6):720-765

Anesthesia services are high risk despite progress made in the specialty to improve its safety. This special section covers issues that affect anesthesia safety such as critical incident debriefing, human factors, and educational strategies.

Medication Safety Alert! Acute care edition. December 2, 2021;(24)1-4.

Insulin is a high-alert medication that requires extra attention to safely manage blood sugar levels in chronic or acutely ill patients. This alert highlights look-alike/sound-alike packaging, delayed medication reconciliation, and dietary monitoring gaps as threats to safe insulin administration in emergencies. Recommendations for improvement are provided for both general in-hospital, and post-discharge care.
Marufu TC, Bower R, Hendron E, et al. J Pediatr Nurs. 2021;Epub Sep 12.
Medication errors threaten patient safety and can result in adverse outcomes. This systematic review identified seven types of nursing interventions used to reduce medication administration errors in pediatric and neonatal patients: education programs, medication information services, clinical pharmacist involvement, double checking, barriers to reduce interruptions during drug calculation and preparation, use of smart pumps, and improvement strategies (e.g., checklists, process or policy changes). Meta-analysis pooling results from various types of interventions demonstrated a 64% reduction in medication administration errors.
Okpalauwaekwe U, Tzeng H-M. Patient Relat Outcome Meas. 2021;12:323-337.
Patients transferred from hospitals to skilled nursing facilities (SNFs) are vulnerable to adverse events. This scoping review identified common extrinsic factors contributing to adverse events among older adults during rehabilitation stays at skilled nursing facilities, including inappropriate medication usage, polypharmacy, environmental hazards, poor communication between staff, lack of resident safety plans, and poor quality of care due to racial bias, organizational issues, and administrative issues.
Cam H, Kempen TGH, Eriksson H, et al. BMC Geriatr. 2021;21(7):618.
Poor communication between hospital and primary care providers can lead to adverse events, such as hospital readmission. In this study of older adults who required medication-related follow-up with their primary care provider, the discharging provider only sent an adequate request for 60% of patients. Of those patients that did not have an adequate request, 14% had a related hospital revisit within 6 months.
Tzeng H-M, Raji MA, Chou L-N, et al. J Nurs Care Qual. 2021;37(1):6-13.
Potentially inappropriate medications (PIMs) for older adults carry a high risk of adverse drug events. Using a sample of Medicare beneficiaries from 2015 to 2018, researchers assessed the impact of state scope of practice regulations for nurse practitioners (NPs) on PIM prescribing patterns compared to primary care physicians. Findings indicate that the PIM prescribing rate is lower in states with full NP practice and lower among NPs than among physicians.