- Implementation of medication traceability systems in ALL European hospitals to prevent medication errors and improve efficiency and quality of nursing staff.
The role of medication traceability in preventing such errors in acute care settings is critical.
Studies have shown that Medication traceability technology results in the following benefits:
i.) Being able to retrieve a patient back into the health care system who has received a substandard drug (batch recall of a falsified medicine).
ii.) Reduction in the number of medication and human errors in medication prescription.
iii.) Reduction in medication preparation errors. Medication steps are tracked and the process is stopped if an error is detected. The scanning system double checks the information and sends an alert that something is amiss. Lookalike, soundalike medication contributes to 33% of administration errors. (12)
iv.) Acts as a double check for the nurse. The recommended best practice standard is for two nurses to check IV high-risk medications prior to administration (the four eyes principle) to reduce human error. Barcoded Medication Administration (BCMA) reduces the staffing burden for a second physical check and frees up nursing resources. High workloads and low staffing contribute to 23% of medication administration errors. (13)
v.) Reduces distractions. If a nurse is not interrupted to perform a second check on IV medications then there are less distractions. Distractions (e.g. being pulled away, doing two things at once) contribute to medication errors, resulting in an improper “check”. (14)
vi.) Reduces manual documentation. After each administration, nurses have to physically document the time, date and the name of the nurse who administers it. With medication traceability systems this can be done automatically. This applies to invoices processing as well.
vii.) Reduces the number of steps required, as manual steps are automated. Up to 40% of nursing time is spent on administrative tasks (such as documentation) instead of clinical activities.
viii.) BMCA has the ability to track and trace the entire medication journey, such as alerts to the wrong location.
ix.) If an infusion pump is included in this administration process, BCMA can be used to check administration rates are correctly programmed.
x.) Reduce medication dispensing errors to inpatients and outpatients alike.
xi.) Reduce costs and inefficiencies in managing medication inventory and optimise stocks.
xii.) Better track and trace on medication shortages and use of alternative medications.
- Promotion of healthcare workers Wellbeing.
The mental health and wellbeing of healthcare workers directly affects their ability to care for patients. Furthermore, if one healthcare worker is suffering from burnout, this can impact the colleagues around them and other members of the healthcare workforce.
The promotion of healthcare worker’s wellbeing will improve staff morale and lead to fewer medical errors among hospital employees. It will also improve the worker’s lives emotionally, personally, and professionally.
- Promotion of a “Just Culture” environment vs “Blame Culture” environment, including non-punitive surveillance systems to record medication errors in the European Hospitals (Peter Druker “If you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it”).
One organizational approach has been to seek out errors and identify the responsible individual. Individual punishment follows. This punitive approach does not solve the problem. People function within systems designed by an organization. An individual may be at fault, but frequently the system is also at fault. Punishing people without changing the system only perpetuates the problem rather than solving it. (NCBI)
- Inclusion of medication errors prevention (patient safety) in Europe´s Beating Cancer Plan
Europe’s Beating Cancer Plan – which can be read here – contains no mention of patient safety.