Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Congress Passes Measure to Prevent Medication Errors at Hospitals

This measure will require a major technology investment for hospitals which may require assistance to jump start the process. SV

The bill passed by both the Senate and the House requires the Secretary of Health and Human Services to develop quality standards, including medication safety measures, that the Secretary determines will improve hospital quality. Hospitals that do not disclose whether they have adopted the new standards will be penalized by receiving reduced Medicare reimbursements. This requirement will build on quality control measures recently implemented as part of the Deficit Reduction Act. Possible safety measures could include:

Electronic prescribing to prevent errors because pharmacy staff cannot read handwriting or dosage information;
Bar coding of individual dosages with scanners that can compare the patient record with the drug to be administered both at the time order is filled in the pharmacy and at the patient bedside;
Using smart IV infusion pumps that alert nurses if the dose exceeds hospital-established limits before infusion begins.

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