June is National Safety Month

June is National Safety Month

June is National Safety Month and at OctariusRx we recognize and support the National Safety Council’s efforts to build and advocate for a culture of safety.

When it comes to safety, too much is never enough. Our team of consultant pharmacists works tirelessly to ensure our clients and patients are always as safe as possible. From our relentless focus on safe medication management, to guidance on workplace safety, we strive daily to develop and support a culture that leads to safety, regulatory compliance, and survey success. Have you assessed your risks? Do you have a plan in place to mitigate those risks?

Let’s look at some of the most common risks and how we can help.

  • Safe injection practices: Every year, demonstrating safe injection practices is near the top of the list of most common deficiencies. In a previous post, I discussed the top Fifteen Common Safe Injection Practice Deficiencies and How Your Consultant Pharmacist Can Help. Among the most common are not labeling multi-dose vials opened and drawn in a patient treatment area as a single patient vial; opening, dating, and saving multi-dose vials on anesthesia carts for future use; and splitting of single-dose vials. What can you do to improve your injection practices? The first step to ensure safe injection practices is to develop and follow policies and procedures that are based on nationally recognized guidelines such as the CDCAPIC and World Health Organization (WHO). Your consultant pharmacist should be able to support you in this process. Next, make sure you are working with a consultant pharmacist that performs comprehensive audits on a regular basis. Comprehensive audits are a necessity because so much is found by surveyors that would not be apparent to a pharmacist performing only cursory reviews. Your pharmacist’s visits serve as an extra set of eyes, are a good opportunity to reinforce appropriate behaviors, and provide staff training. Let your consultant pharmacist find problems or help you fix them before a surveyor comes knocking.
  • High alert medications: When used in error, these drugs carry a higher risk of causing significant patient harm. High alert medications require special attention, and a consultant pharmacist can help ensure this happens. Some tips? Post the most recent list and ensure your staff is continuously educated on the contents of the list. Use warning labels for both Look-Alike-Sound-Alike and High-Alert medications. If the labels on the shelf are bent, frayed or in any way hard to read, replace them with fresh and clear versions. The Institute for Safe Medication Practices (ISMP) is a great resource for obtaining a current list of high-alert medications.
  • Look-Alike-Sound-Alike Medications (Confused Drug Names): These medications require special safeguards to reduce the risk of errors and avoid patient harm. A consultant pharmacist can help to make sure you’ve established, and are following, best practices. Some tips? Post your organization’s ‘Look-Alike-Sound-Alike’ list for all staff members to see and refer to, and make sure the list is specific to the medications currently used at your facility. If formulary changes are made, the list should be updated too. You can develop your list based on the Institute for Safe Medication Practices (ISMP) List of Confused Drug Names.
  • Compounded Drugs: Will your facility use compounded drugs? If so, take steps to protect your patients and let a consultant pharmacist help you do a proper assessment of any outsourcing facility prior to ordering products. Is the pharmacy providing the compounded drugs an FDA registered 503B outsourcing facility? According to a 2019 report from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General, about 11% of hospitals get compounded drugs from sources that are not registered with the FDA. This leads to increased risks to your patients and liability for your facility and staff.
  • Antibiotic Stewardship:  As we all know, antibiotic stewardship is a critical component of a good infection control program. Which antibiotics should you use and when? What about perioperative management of antibiotics? Do you have a plan to deal with prophylaxis and antibiotic timing? As you develop your infection control program, tap the knowledge of your consultant pharmacist to ensure you are on solid ground and prepared to not only meet, but exceed all regulatory and clinical requirements. In a recent post titled “Are you Using Perioperative Antibiotics Correctly?”, I answered some of these questions. We also provide a reference poster for our clients with the answers for easy preparation and administration of the most used antibiotics. If you’re not one of our clients, or if you just have a question, we’d still love to help you.

Let’s not forget the safety of facility staff. Like patient safety, there are far too many risks to address completely in one article. However, there are some basics areas that need constant attention to ensure a safe work environment.

  • Hazards: The list of workplace hazards is long, and they are all around us. Identifying them early can help us address them and prevent unnecessary injury. One hazard that is directly related to medication management is the exposure to hazardous drugs. USP Chapter <800> is the chapter providing guidance on hazardous drugs and was implemented December 1, 2019. Your pharmacy consultant should be able to guide you on processes, policy, and procedure. For starters, we recommend getting the <800> HazRx phone app. This is a great tool to use to identify hazardous drugs and look up information on how to safely handle them.  You can receive monthly updates and the app will help you know your exposure to hazardous drugs. As we all know, hazardous drugs pose potential short-term and long-term risks. You can take a big step in protecting yourself, your staff, and your patients by simply downloading and using the app.
  • Falls: We want to avoid falls for everyone and we generally focus on reducing the risk of falls for patients. Having systems in place to help reduce patient falls is a necessity and part of that system involves reducing the risk of falls related to medication use. Staff members may not be at risk for the same reasons, but they too are at risk of falls and injuries at work. National safety month is a good time to be vigilant and do an audit of fall hazards that can lead to injury or death. From electric cords to personal protective equipment (PPE), there are many opportunities to make staff members safer.
  • Fatigue and impairment: These concepts apply to all industries, but is especially important in healthcare. Employees need to be healthy and focused to stay safe at work, but fatigue and impairment are major barriers. The ongoing opioid crisis can impact facilities in multiple ways, from diversion of controlled substances to staff members who are impaired. Learn to recognize the signs of fatigue/impairment and help develop a workplace that helps promote a culture of safe habits.

The National Safety Council is the nation’s leading non-profit safety advocate. Their mission is to eliminate preventable deaths through leadership, research, education, and advocacy. At OctariusRx we take safety very seriously and are continually focused on safe medication management. We are experts at enhancing patient safety, achieving survey success, and reducing risks and costs for the facilities we serve. Let us assess your facility and put in place processes to enhance the safety of your patients and your staff. Contact us to get started with a free consultation.

The Consultant Pharmacists at OctariusRx provide guidance on safe medication management, survey readiness and cost savings to ambulatory healthcare facilities/surgery centerssenior care facilities and pharmacies. We also help individual patients optimize their medications to improve their quality of life and save money. Contact us for assistance.

Any health, medical or drug information on the Web Site is for informational purposes only. This information is not intended to be used, and you should not use it, as a substitute for obtaining professional healthcare advice, diagnosis or treatment. You should always seek the advice of your doctor, a pharmacist or other qualified healthcare provider for professional healthcare advice, diagnosis or treatment for any medical condition.