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EMS group find success with medication cross-check

Errors involving medication are a problem throughout the nation, in the Pittsburgh area and beyond. Giving too much or too little of a medicine or administering the wrong medication all together are two of the biggest issues. Another problem is drug interactions. Recognizing the problems surrounding medication errors, medical providers across the country are trying to create programs that will reduce the number of times these errors occur.

An emergency medical services group in another state has a program in place that is showing great promise with the patients transported. The root of the program is communication. The results, an accuracy rate of 99.879 percent, have led two other medical transport groups in the country to follow suit. The process that was created by two workers is also being considered by 16 other agencies throughout the nation.

One of the likely reasons behind its success is the short amount of time the communication takes. It is designed to take 20-seconds and involves covering medication safety basics via a scripted exchange. Verbalizing the steps as they are gone through appears to help ensure mistakes are not being made. On more than one occasion the administration of a drug has been stopped due to information that comes to light during the verbal exchange.

Medication errors can lead to serious injuries and in the worst cases even death. These types of situations can lead to medical malpractice lawsuits being filed. While most would agree that it is good that the option to pursue a civil lawsuit exists, it is fair to say that eliminating the problem is much more desirable.

Source: The Wichita Eagle, "Sedgwick County EMS develops process to reduce medication errors," Rick Plumlee. May 4, 2013

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