The Year in Review: 2021

The Year in Review: 2021

It’s that time of year again. Unbelievably, we are quickly approaching 2022 and it’s time to look back at of the biggest topics of this year. Every year is full of actionable headlines to consider and challenges to overcome. Our goal is to help our clients navigate successfully though the important issues of the ever-changing healthcare landscape. Below is a summary of the top ten topics that generated the most questions and interest in 2021.

Are you using preoperative antibiotics correctly?

Appropriately administered prophylactic antibiotics reduce the risk of surgical site infection (SSI). SSIs are the most common and costliest health care-associated infections. SSIs have an enormous impact on patients’ quality of life and contribute substantially to the financial cost of patient care. How do you manage perioperative antibiotic administration? Do you have a guide to help you properly mix, dilute, and correctly time your antibiotic administration? In this post I discussed some of the basics, such as which antibiotic is best for preop prophylaxis, when antibiotics should be administered, alternative antibiotics for patients with allergies, and how to prepare antibiotics for administration.

Should you wait to get vaccinated against COVID19?

When is the best time to get vaccinated? Will the newer vaccines be safer and more effective? These are just some of the questions I was initially asked when the vaccines first received Emergency Use Authorization from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Although a lot has changed since that time, many questions remain and the debate rages on. Although we addressed the issue of whether to wait to get vaccinated, we also addressed the following: What are the contraindications to COVID19 vaccination according to the CDC, things we know and things we don’t know about COVID-19 vaccination, and what steps to take after getting vaccinated.

What herbal and vitamin supplements increase the risk of bleeding?

Believe it or not, the list is longer than you’d expect, and the risk is real. Herbal supplements can impact surgery in various ways, from additive sedation to increased bleeding risk. It’s important that the entire team be aware ahead of time, but patients don’t usually disclose herbal supplements because they may not consider them to be medications. So how are you screening your patients and mitigating this risk? In this post we looked at the supplements that pose the greatest risk and what you can do to make your patients safer.

Is it Safe to Use a Compounding Pharmacy?

Whether it’s the ongoing drug shortages or the need for a specialty product, the use of compounding pharmacies, specifically outsourcing facilities, is often convenient, if not a necessity. How safe is a compounding pharmacy/outsourcing facility? Is there a way to screen the good from the bad ones? In this post I discussed the safety of compounded medications and what you can do to enhance patient wellbeing and reduce your liability.

We routinely assess compounding pharmacies and provide guidance for our facilities. Whether you’re already using a compounder or plan on using one in the future, now is a good time to conduct and document your due diligence. Doing so will not only enhance patient safety, but it will also likely save you a lot of money by reducing your risk and liability. If you still have questions or need help, don’t hesitate to contact us.

More drug shortages are expected and could impact ambulatory surgery centers (ASCs).

Some of the most commonly used medications in ASCs, such as propofol and the local anesthetics, continue to be on the most recent drug shortage lists. Does your facility have a plan in place to ensure ongoing supplies and minimize disruptions to patient care?  Drug shortages are not new, and they likely will not go away anytime soon. What is most important is for facilities to be proactive instead of reactive. Beyond the plan to replace the medication, it’s also important to be proactive about protecting patients from the potential risks that come with using different products.

How much pain medication should you send your patients home with?

Do patients use opioids post operatively? The short answer is most do not. Greater than sixty percent of patients do not completely use opioids prescribed for post-operative pain. How can physicians and facilities use this information to have a positive impact on the opioid crisis? How is your facility determining quantities prescribed? Are there alternatives to opioids? In this post we discussed recent trends in the use of opioids as well as steps prescribers and facilities can take to reduce risks and liability.

Medication Management Deficiencies Commonly Cited in 2020.

Medication management deficiencies were among the most often cited elements during 2020 surveys. Do you have systems in place to ensure patient safety and regulatory compliance? How do you store medications? Do you know what to do with high-alert and look-like-sound-alike medications? How about hazardous medications? Who in your facility is responsible for clinical and regulatory changes? In this post we discussed focus areas and questions you will need to answer during your next certification or accreditation survey.

What medication errors are most common in operating rooms?

There are many potential hazards to patient safety in the OR and among the most prominent are medication safety issues. Do you know which medications pose the greatest risks? What steps can you take to minimize the risks, increase patient safety, and reduce your liability? Many of the medications used in the OR are high-alert medications. When used in error, these drugs carry a higher risk of causing significant patient harm and some common examples are injectable opioids (e.g., fentanyl, remifentanil), vasopressors (e.g., phenylephrine, norepinephrine) and paralyzing agents (e.g. succinylcholine, rocuronium). In this post we addressed the most common medication errors in the operating room and why they happen. We also focused on steps you can take to make your patients safer and at the same time reduce facility costs and liability.

Some of the Most Common Deficiencies in Recent ASC Surveys.

Some of the most common deficiencies in recent surveys are directly related to medication management and safety. How does your facility oversee pharmaceutical services and patient safety to avoid survey deficiencies? Let our pharmacy consultants help you. Each year the Accreditation Association for Ambulatory Health Care (AAAHC) releases their Quality Roadmap, a report on accreditation survey results. As we analyze the report and compare it to previous versions, one thing is apparent…we have made some improvements, but we are still struggling with many areas related to safe medication management. In this post we discussed how medication reconciliation, patient allergies and safe injection practices remain survey areas of focus and what you can do to enhance your chances of a successful survey.

What should I do with Look-Alike-Sound-Alike medications?

What should I do with Look-Alike-Sound-Alike medications is one of the common questions I get from facilities. Having a policy and procedure for addressing this patient safety risk is an absolute necessity. Do you know what to include in your policy and what steps you should take to help reduce the risk of these medications being used in error? In this post we provided some examples and tips on how to safely handle look-alike-sound-alike medications (confused drug names).

This is just a small sampling of the items we addressed in 2021. Although it highlights the most talked about topics, there are many others we suggest you go back and review. It’s never too late to make improvements. If you need additional information on any of these topics, please read the original post or reach out to us. We are always happy to point you in the right direction. We help our clients by guiding them on safe medication management, helping increase patient safety and survey success.

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.