Drug safety group: Hospitals need interdisciplinary medication safety training

Hospitals that don't educate and cross-train pharmacists, nurses and doctors in medication safety undermine their patient safety efforts, according to an expert from the Institute for Safe Medication Practices.

"Siloed" education--training specific to individual disciplines--and inconsistent competency assessments contribute to missed opportunities for patient safety improvements, Matthew Grissinger, the institute's director of error reporting programs, said in a recent webinar recounted by Anesthesiology News.

A recent self-assessment survey administered by the Horsham, Pa.-based institute found an average practitioner score of only 64 percent on how well they were oriented, evaluated and trained on an ongoing bases in preventing medication errors and safely using high-alert drugs, according to the article.

In another key survey finding, only 34 percent of responding hospitals said new staff pharmacists spend time in patient units to become familiar with prescribing practices or how drugs or stored and administered. At the same time, only 28 percent of new nurses spend time in the pharmacy during orientation.

Medication safety standards should be developed collaboratively from the bottom up, added Kyle Hultgren, managing director of the Center for Medication Safety Advancement at Indiana's Purdue University, Anesthesiology News reported.

While in-house education is an issue, so is the number of medication alerts in electronic health records, according to a study released last year. Researchers following 30 doctors, nurse practitioners and pharmacists noted the study subjects received 320 medication alerts in the treatment of 146 outpatients.

Although prescribers received most of the alerts, their content seemed geared more toward pharmacists and were sometimes confusing to doctors and nurses, the researchers noted.

To learn more:
- read the Anesthesiology News article
- here's the prescription alert study