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Medication Errors

Medication errors are one of the most common preventable causes of patient injury. The Institute of Medicine estimates that there are 400,000 preventable drug-related injuries in hospitals each year. Our hospital has implemented numerous safeguards to prevent such errors. By taking the time to understand these safeguards and providing us with the information we request, you can be confident in your safety.

What we do to prevent medication errors

Medication Reconciliation

Patient safety experts agree that the first step in preventing medication errors is to compare a list of medications the patient is taking at home with any new medications that have been prescribed in the hospital. This is known as medication reconciliation. We use a computerized system to help us reconcile medications for all inpatients at every stage of the journey, from admission through release. This ensures that patients are taking the correct medications at each level of care.

Electronic Medical Record

An electronic medical record eliminates errors based on illegible handwriting or unsafe abbreviations. Many components of our records are electronic and we are in the process of transitioning the remaining items.

Identification Safeguards

Some medication errors are caused by improper patient identification. To prevent such errors, we pay extra attention to identifying our patients at each stage of the care process. Every time you are given medications, your nurse will ask you to state your name. The nurse will then verify this with your wristband. This does not indicate that we don't know who you are; it shows that we want to be absolutely certain you are safe.

Medication Event Elimination Program

Medication errors are usually caused by system failures, rather than individual mistakes. Each error may be preceded by dozens of harmless "events," such as delays or confusion about medication. We utilize a program to eliminate medication events that reach the patient. As part of this program, our pharmacist interacts directly with physicians, ensuring that all medication orders are clear.

What you can do to prevent medication errors

Prepare An Accurate List of Home Medications
When you come to the Hospital for the first time, bring a complete, up-to-date list of your medications including the name of the drug, the dose, how many times you take the medication and the reason why you take it. This will help ensure that your medications are ordered correctly. If you are unsure, call your pharmacist for assistance.

State Your Name and Date of Birth When Asked

If a member of your health care team asks you to repeat your name and date of birth, remember that this request is part of our rigorous safety program. Your cooperation helps us ensure your safety.

Question Unfamiliar Medications

When you are in the Hospital, if you are given a pill that looks unfamiliar, or if you are not receiving a drug that you would normally take, ask the nurse to explain why you are receiving it. If you still have questions, we can check your record or you can speak directly to a pharmacist, if necessary.