17 Jan 2011 | Medication Safety
Beth Loe, National Co-ordinator on the District Health Boards New Zealand Safe and Quality Use of Medicines Group, is co-ordinating the design of a standardised medication chart for adult medication and surgical inpatients, which is to be introduced nationally. This chart is another process tool of the sort well-established in other industries. It will be a simple, inexpensive but effective way of reducing medication errors.
The standard medication chart will enable:
· easy identification of signatures
· clear documentation of a patient’s adverse drug reactions and allergies
· the separation of regular and non-regular medicines
· the facilitation of standard training and education for all health professionals using the chart.
One simple design feature that may in itself save lives is a pre-printed decimal point to avoid ‘classic’ ten- or hundred-fold errors in dose due to illegible prescribing and misunderstandings about dosage.
The introduction of the standardised chart has begun, and will be complete by December 2011. If adopted by all DHBs, it will ensure every person involved in prescribing, dispensing, administering and reviewing medicines for adult inpatients will use the same chart throughout New Zealand. Paediatric patients and psychiatric patients are excepted because special considerations apply to them.
As Beth Loe says, ‘The new chart will significantly reduce the risk of adverse events and patient harm that can result when clinicians are unfamiliar with a chart, or with a hospital’s unique practices and systems.’