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Avoid Medication Errors and Improve Patient Safety

Patient care safety is paramount in the practice of medicine and despite our greatest intentions medication errors still occur. The practice of medicine in EMS is no exception. No one wants to inflict harm to the very persons we are sworn to assist. So what measures can be taken to avert potential errors and harm to patients? EMS organizations and their providers should consider:

Using unit dose packaging when available

Using infusion pumps for medication drips

Issuing drug dosage and infusion charts to providers

Providing calculators

Having a policy that requires administration order confirmation (i.e. repeat order to medical direction and/or confirm with written protocols)

  • Drug
  • Dosage
  • Route

Teaching providers to

  • Verify patient medication allergies;
  • Check medication name on package;
  • Check medication name on container (syringe, vial, ampule, bottle);
  • Check/validate expiration dates;
  • Check total container quantity;
  • Recheck medication container to validate the correct drug once it has been removed from the package;
  • Draw correct dosage;
  • Verify drawn dosage, and
  • Manually calculate drips with calculator (if infusion pump is unavailable.)

Double check all of the above, and

Have a partner verify.

In the event an error occurs, follow these procedures:

  • Immediately report error to the attending physician;
  • Notify the EMS medical director immediately;
  • Contact your Supervisor, and
  • Complete an incident report.

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