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This WebM&M highlights two cases where home diabetes medications were not reviewed during medication reconciliation and the preventable harm that could have occurred. The commentary discusses the importance of medication reconciliation, how to compile the ‘best possible medication history’, and how pharmacy staff roles and responsibilities can reduce medication errors.

Paterson EP, Manning KB, Schmidt MD, et al. J Emerg Nurs. 2022;48:319-327.
Automated dispensing cabinets (ADCs) can reduce medication dispensing errors by requiring pharmacist verification. This study found that medication overrides (i.e., bypassing pharmacist review before administration) in one pediatric emergency department were frequently not due to an emergent situation requiring immediate medication administration and could have been avoided.
Savva G, Papastavrou E, Charalambous A, et al. Sr Care Pharm. 2022;37:200-209.
Polypharmacy is an established problem among older adult patients and can lead to medication errors and adverse events. This observational study concluded that polypharmacy was common among adult patients (ages 21 and older) at one tertiary hospital, with almost half of inpatients prescribed more than 9 drugs during their hospitalization. Findings indicate that medication administration errors increase as the number of prescribed drugs increased.
Lohmeyer Q, Schiess C, Wendel Garcia PD, et al. BMJ Qual Saf. 2022;Epub Mar 8.
Tall Man lettering (TML) is a recommended strategy to reduce look-alike or sound-alike medication errors. This simulation study used eye tracking to investigate how of ‘tall man lettering’ impacts medication administration tasks. The researchers found that TML of prelabeled syringes led to a significant decrease in misidentified syringes and improved visual attention.

Errors in medication management and administration are major threats to patient safety. This piece explores issues with opioid and nursing-sensitive medication safety as well as medication safety in older adults. Future research directions in medication safety are also discussed.

Haque H, Alrowily A, Jalal Z, et al. Int J Clin Pharm. 2021;43:1693-1704.
While direct oral anticoagulants (DOAC) are considered safer than warfarin, DOAC-related medication errors still occur. This study assesses the frequency, type, and potential causality of DOAC-related medication errors and the nature of clinical pharmacist intervention. Active, rather than latent, failures contributed to most errors.

A 78-year-old woman with macular degeneration presented for a pars plana vitrectomy (PPV) under monitored anesthesia care (MAC) with an eye block. At this particular hospital, eye cases under MAC are typically performed with an eye block by the surgeon after the anesthesiologist has administered some short-acting sedation, commonly with remifentanil. On this day, there was a shortage of premixed remifentanil and the resident – who was unfamiliar with the process of drug dilution – incorrectly diluted the remifentanil solution.

ISMP Medication Safety Alert! Acute care edition. October 7, 2021;26(20):1-4.

Production pressure and low staff coverage can result in medication mistakes in community pharmacies. This article shares reported vaccine errors and factors contributing to mistaken administration of flu and COVID vaccines. Storage, staffing and collaboration strategies are shared to protect against vaccine mistakes.

This commentary presents two cases highlighting common medication errors in retail pharmacy settings and discusses the importance of mandatory counseling for new medications, use of standardized error reporting processes, and the role of clinical decision support systems (CDSS) in medical decision-making and ensuring medication safety.

ISMP Medication Safety Alert! Acute care edition. January 27, 2021;26(2).

Medication safety is challenged by both persistent problems and emerging situations. This article summarizes reports of errors submitted voluntarily to the Institute for Safe Medication Practices (ISMP) in 2020. The set list includes both pandemic-related hazards and common problems such as use of abbreviations and opioid-naïve patient prescribing. 
Alshahrani F, Marriott JF, Cox AR. Int J Clin Pharm. 2020;43:884-892.
Computerized provider order entry (CPOE) can prevent prescribing errors, but patient safety threats persist. Based on qualitative interviews with multidisciplinary prescribers, the authors identified several issues related to CPOE interacting within a complex prescribing environment, including alert fatigue, remote prescribing, and default auto-population of dosages.
Härkänen M, Turunen H, Vehviläinen-Julkunen K. J Patient Saf. 2020;16.
This study compared medication errors detected using incident reports, the Global Trigger Tool method, and direct observations of patient records. Incident reports and the Global Trigger Tool more commonly identified medication errors likely to cause harm. Omission errors were commonly identified by all three methods, but identification of other errors varied. For example, incident reports most commonly identified wrong dose and wrong time errors. The contributing factors also varied by method, but in general, communication issues and human factors were the most common contributors.
A 55-year old woman became unarousable with low oxygen saturation as a result of multiple intravenous benzodiazepine doses given overnight. The benzodiazepine was ordered following a seizure in the intensive care unit (ICU) and was not revised or discontinued upon transfer to the floor; several doses were given for different indications - anxiety and insomnia.
A patient with multiple comorbidities and chronic pain was admitted for elective spinal decompression and fusion. The patient was placed on a postoperative patient-controlled analgesia (PCA) for pain control and was later found unresponsive. The case illustrates risks associated with opioid administration through PCA, particularly among patients at high risk for postoperative opioid-induced respiratory depression.
Alexander GC, Qato DM. JAMA. 2020;324:31-32.
The COVID-19 pandemic has raised concerns about the pharmaceutical supply chain, from overseas manufacturing to medication distribution within the United States. This commentary presents several emergency response and preparedness measures for policymakers, pharmaceutical distributors and pharmacies to prepare for drug shortages and demand surges. Suggested measures include developing an “essential medicines” strategy, using allocation strategies that prevent stockpiling and drug shortages and expanding capacity for mail-order and home delivery.
Marzal-Alfaro MB, Rodriguez-Gonzalez CG, Escudero-Vilaplana V, et al. Health Informatics J. 2020;26:1995-2010.
This study applied failure mode, effect, and criticality analysis (FMECA) methodology to identify the impact of an image-based workflow software on reducing chemotherapy errors. After software implementation, the overall medication error rate decreased significantly, as did all types of errors except wrong medicinal product errors.
Pino FA, Weidemann DK, Schroeder LL, et al. Am J Health Syst Pharm. 2019;76:1972-1979.
Heparin – a commonly used anticoagulant – is a high-risk medication and a patient safety risk to both adults and children. This study used a failure mode and effects analysis (FMEA) to prospectively analyze various steps in the preparation, use and disposal of heparin in a pediatric hospital to identify areas of improvement. The FMEA identified 233 potential failures and 737 potential causes of failure. Underlying causes of failure included mathematical errors, EHR challenges, and varying practice and operating procedures (or lack thereof). Countermeasures to address underlying causes are also addressed.