Fireproof Your Pharmacy with Contingency Planning!

February 2013 - Vol.10 No. 2 - Page #1

In today’s modern pharmacy, the myriad work activities, personnel, programs, and systems necessary to function at a high level can tend toward disorder, and if left unchecked, can become quite chaotic. Thus, the importance of active research into opportunities for safety and efficiency improvements is imperative. 

The simple fact is, one cannot be in control of every system at all times. Outside variables can and do impact patient safety and thus, preparing for the unexpected must be incorporated into all processes. Contingency planning can be challenging to implement given the variety of problematic scenarios that can arise, but such planning is the cornerstone of a truly safe system. 

For example, the inherent risk in removing chemotherapy vials from their packaging is obvious, and your safety plan likely incorporates steps for personnel to take to avoid exposure if a broken vial is discovered in a shipment. However, consider the situation wherein a vial becomes damaged during the manufacturing stage, and although the broken product is removed from the production line, the neighboring vials may be contaminated with residue from the spill and those vials are shipped to your facility. There is no way for the person unpacking the vials to identify the potential exposure, as there is no visible cue for alarm. 

With this in mind, contingency planning is not a necessity for hazardous drugs alone. In this month’s issue, Lorraineá Williams, PharmD, discusses the many inherent risks in dosing for pediatrics and how proper use of BCMA can minimize those risks before they have a chance to impact safety.

There are many situations in the pharmacy where factors beyond our control can impact safety, be it inheriting a poorly designed workspace that prevents effective workflow, or carrying formulary products that become unavailable without warning. These all too common situations should help shape contingency safety planning and allow pharmacy leadership to be nimble in response.  

All the best,
R. Mitchell Halvorsen

P.S. PP&P would like to congratulate Gary Voeste, RPh, as the winner of our 2012 Survey Participation Sweepstakes! For this annual prize, we randomly select one submission from all 2012 survey participants. Gary, Director of Pharmacy at Moab Regional Hospital, will receive four 16 GB iPad Mini tablets to distribute among his staff. We would like to thank Gary, as well as all our other survey participants from this past year for helping us improve our coverage of hospital pharmacy operations. We hope you will continue to support our surveys in 2013!


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