Leapfrog: Hospitals aren't using medication safety technology effectively

While the majority of hospitals have bar code medication administration technology and computer physician order entry systems to help safely administer medication to patients, few hospitals use the technology in the most effective way possible, according to a new report from the Leapfrog Group.

The report was analyzed by Castlight Health and found while 97.8 percent of reporting hospitals had a bar code scanning system for medication administration on at least one unit, only 30 percent fully met Leapfrog's standards for use of that system.

To meet Leapfrog's standards, hospitals must link the system to an electronic medication administration record in all medical/surgical and intensive care units, scan both patient and medication bar codes 95 percent of the time and have seven decision support elements in place and five best practices processes to prevent workarounds.

The number of hospitals meeting Leapfrog's CPOE standards, however, has been on the rise since 2012. In 2016, 74 percent of hospitals met the standards, which are:

  • Order at least 75 percent of inpatient medications through the CPOE system
  • The system must include decision support software and be linked to hospital information systems to prevent prescribing errors
  • Demonstrate the system alerts physicians to at least 50 percent of common, serious prescribing issues

All together, just 22 percent of hospitals met both CPOE and bar code medication administration technology standards, a statistic Leapfrog President and CEO Leah Binder called "startling."

"This tells us that much more needs to be done to reduce the prevalence of medication errors, which harm millions of patients each year," she said.

Leapfrog's report is based on data from 1,859 hospitals that responded to its nationwide survey.

See the full report here.

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