10 tips for preventing medication errors during COVID-19 surges

Surges in COVID-19 patient volume place significant physical and emotional demands on clinicians, which can lead to an onslaught of preventable medication errors, according to the Institute for Safe Medication Practices.

Below are 10 tips from the institute for leaders on how to identify, prevent and respond to medication errors during COVID-19 surges.

Identifying errors

1. Anticipate that medication errors may occur during surges due to altered workflows and hectic care environments. 

2. Implement a confidential, clear and easy-to-use reporting system for clinicians.

3. Work to maintain clinicians' trust and allay fears that they will be blamed or punished for reporting an error.

4. Provide rapid and useful feedback to clinicians after they report an error. 

Preventing errors

5. Standardize to a single concentration or dose rate of certain IV infusions when possible.

6. Use premixed solutions for common infusions that are visually distinct from one another.

7. Clearly label critical care infusions when dispensing a nonstandard concentration or a paralyzing agent. 

8. Implement safety huddles and create a process for staff to conduct independent double checks before administering infusions.

Responding to errors

9. Use open communication and ensure employees feel supported.

10. Set expectations with staff that "blaming and shaming" is not acceptable after a medical error.

To view the Institute for Safe Medication Practices' full list of recommendations, click here.

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