Friday, July 30, 2010

Interrupting a Nurse Can Lead to Errors

In a new article in Pharmacy Practice News, "Unchaining Nurses From Drug Cabinets," Al Heller writes about efforts to prevent nurses from being interrupted as they administer medications.

"At South Jersey Healthcare (SJH), in Vineland, N.J., more than 95% of medications are stored in automated dispensing cabinets (ADCs) at patient care units. But to make the technology realize its potential, the hospital implemented a software system that has streamlined procedures, saved steps for nurses and leaves them less vulnerable to interruptions that could lead to potential medication administration errors."
Click here to access the full article.

INQRI researchers have addressed this important topic as well. A multi-disciplinary team at Rutgers University has identified changes in nursing care processes that are needed to prevent medication errors as well as adjustments in nurse staffing and the practice environment that are important to facilitate interception of such errors. This is the first study of its kind to show how predictive practice environments and nurse staffing levels are when it comes to medication errors. Preliminary findings reveal that there is a core cluster of nurse safety processes that are significantly associated with fewer medication errors. These include critical thinking and questioning, such as asking physicians to clarify or rewrite unclear orders, as well as independently reconciling patient medications and educating patients and families. This team also found that hospitals with supportive practice environments, including having front-line managers, allowing nurses to participate in organizational decisions, and having good collaborative relationships with physicians were key quality indicators. Finally, hospitals that had more RNs per patient were found to be places where nurses were more likely to engage in safer practices. The study also looked at the role of computerized physician order entry (CPOE). Findings reveal that full implementation of CPOE reduced medication errors significantly and is a predictor of fewer medication errors.

Click here to learn about other INQRI teams engaged in the process of preventing medication errors.

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