Delivering IV Safety

March 2014 : IV Safety - Vol. 11 No. 3 - Page #1

As is well known among hospital pharmacy practitioners, maintaining a high level of compounding practice and overall safety for intravenous medications is imperative to ensure patient safety. With the restrictions imposed by various bodies such as CMS and the Accountable Care Act, hospitals are under significant pressure to eliminate medication errors and any other events that can lead to prolonged hospitalizations or readmissions. As many of these incidents are now considered unreimbursable, such events carry the combined risks of patient harm and financial burden. 

It is with this in mind that we encourage hospital pharmacists to embrace a leadership role in promoting IV safety not just in the pharmacy, but throughout the facility. It is both understandable and reasonable that many pharmacy directors concentrate their focus on the myriad responsibilities affecting the day-to-day operations of the pharmacy. Ensuring the integrity of medications while in the pharmacy is one thing, but many medications—particularly IV products—remain vulnerable to exposure or contamination after they leave the pharmacy. This creates an opportunity for pharmacy to take an active role in perpetuating the safety mechanisms implemented in the pharmacy into nursing, anesthesia, med/surg, and other areas where medications are handled and administered. 

Almost universally, an integral aspect of a successful IV safety leadership role will involve the incorporation of modern automation and technology from safety labels and medication tracking software to CSTDs and PPE for staff protection—because pharmacy leaders can only be in once place at a time. With a network of systems beginning in the pharmacy, IV medication safety can and should be maintained throughout the medication use process. Although the respective managers of the various practitioners that handle and administer IV medication also must be invested in safe practices, the champion logically should come from pharmacy. As the IV safety experts, exercising your competence throughout the facility will reap valuable rewards for your facility. 

All the best,

R. Mitchell Halvorsen


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