Thursday, February 13, 2014

Information Technology Management Could Lead to Reduced Medication Errors

In order to reduce medication errors, hospitals could try implementing processes through information technology that will mistake-proof the system. Ultimately, advanced use of technology could replace the tradition of identifying and eliminating nurses and doctors making a high number of medical errors, Search Health IT reports. However, such a high-maintenance technological program may not be right for all institutions.

A growing number of hospitals are training their staff in Lean Six Sigma, a management philosophy developed by Motorola that emphasizes setting extremely high objectives, collecting data, and analyzing results to a fine degree, according to the article. One way that Six Sigma could improve patient outcomes is by preventing the administration of a medication to the wrong patient by building in certain error-proof steps into medication dispensing:

  • The patient wristband has a barcode and a location-based tracker.
  • The medication administration cart uses location-based tracking and will only dispense the medication after the nurse scans the patient's barcode.
  • The medication administration cart displays a photo of the pill and a photo of the patient to serve as a reminder for the nurse.
  • The cup that holds the dispensed medication uses location-based tracking to ensure that it is in the correct patient's room.
  • The patient's bedside computer has a camera that images the pills and displays the drug name and dosage on the screen so that both the nurse and patient can perform a final check and confirm that the patient is about to receive the proper medication.
While some of these error-proofing steps have already been widely implemented, many hospitals are constrained by lack of access to all of the technologies, or concerns that some steps are time-consuming and would significantly hinder workflow. Using big data analytics, the process of examining large amounts of data to uncover hidden patterns, may provide hospital executives with the information they need to decide on how to both optimize workflow and minimize errors, according to the article.

An INQRI-funded study led by Linda Flynn and Dong-Churl Suh examined the “Impact of Nursing Structures and Processes on Medication Errors.” The multidisciplinary research team identified changes in nursing care processes needed to prevent medication errors as well as adjustments in nurse staffing and the practice environment that can facilitate interception of such errors.

No comments:

Post a Comment