Recent estimates from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine Health and Medicine Division indicate that medication errors harm at least 1.5 million patients per year in the United States. A large portion of these errors can be attributed to IV and oral liquid concentration differences since there is currently no industry standard. This results in a large margin of error.
As such, patients may receive varying concentrations of medications throughout their stay, with each requiring new IV lines and tubing. These changes could be avoided if standard concentrations were used across care settings.
New Industry Initiatives
Following the ASHP Summer Meetings, Pharmacy Practice News reported on the industry’s efforts to address this issue. Specifically mentioned was ASHP’s “Standardize 4 Safety” initiative, which combines the medication expertise of pharmacists with the skills of other healthcare professionals to significantly reduce medication errors and patient harm. This three-year, multiphase initiative will focus on creating and promoting national standards for IV and oral medication concentrations.
Standardize 4 Safety will roll out guidelines in three phases and include:
- Concentrations and dosing units for adult continuous infusions and compounded oral liquids;
- Concentrations and dosing units for pediatric infusions and standard doses of oral liquid medications;
- IV intermittent medications, patient-controlled analgesia pumps, epidurals, and standard doses or oral chemotherapy agents.
Impact on Patient Safety
With compounding medication errors threatening patient safety, hospitals must do everything they can to mitigate these errors while the patient is in their care. In addition to helping the industry by reducing dosing and concentration confusion, this initiative is truly a patient safety strategy that leverages standardization techniques to reduce errors.
ASHP has already released an initial draft of guidelines for adult continuous infusions, which is open for comments and discussion now. Comments can be submitted at standardize4safety.ashp.org.