To cut adverse drug events, follow these tips

A coalition of health care organizations is offering recommendations for reducing the occurrence of adverse drug events, stressing that the problem cannot be solved by government or individual health care organizations working alone.

The advice comes from the National Patient Safety Partnership, made up of the Veterans’ Administration, the American Medical Associa tion, the American Hospital Association, the American Nurses’ Association, the Institute for Healthcare Improvement, the Joint Commission on the Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations, and the Association of American Medical Colleges. The group is urging health care providers to take a number of steps to reduce the incidence of adverse drug events.

First, the patient safety group says practitioners should commit to certain best, or model, practices and work together to implement them, in partnership with consumers, patient advocacy groups, and the pharmaceutical industry. These are the group’s recommendations:

    • Put allergies and medications on patient records.
    • Stress dose adjustment in children and older persons.
    • Limit access to high-hazard drugs.
    • Use protocols for high-hazard drugs.
    • Computerize drug order entry.
    • Use pharmacy-based IV and drug mixing programs.
    • Avoid abbreviations.
    • Standardize drug packaging, labeling, storage.
    • Use "unit dose" drug systems (packaged and labeled in standard patient doses).
    • Require machine-readable labeling (bar coding).
    • Buy drugs with prominent display of name, strength, and warnings.
    • Buy "unit of use" or "unit dose" packaging.
    • Buy IV solutions with two-sided labeling.