Joint Commission issues new heparin rules

In recent years, there's been nearly 60,000 heparin-related errors in hospitals, with about 1,700 result in patient harm or death. To turn this around, the Joint Commission has issued a safety alert giving hospitals a new, strict set of rules for administering the drug.

The safety alert advises hospitals that they need to adopt preventive measures, such as bar coding for medicines or computerized drug orders. It's also advising hospitals to monitor patients who take these drugs more closely, and make sure that adult-strength heparin doses are stored nowhere near children's doses.

To see to it that hospitals are meeting these standards, Joint Commission investigators plan to make unannounced visits and check up on their compliance. Hospitals that don't comply could have their accreditation revoked.

To learn more about the Joint Commission's new alert:
- read this item from the Associated Press

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