Reducing Infusion medication errors following IT integration


Intravenous news: iHealth Beat report “Medication errors have been a problem for decades, but national concern has escalated since the Institute of Medicine in 1999 estimated that they kill at least 7,000 Americans annually, with preventable medication errors adding about $2 billion in additional costs each year to hospitals across the nation.

Medication errors not only cost us precious lives, they drain budgets and detract from investments that could otherwise be used to treat patients and enhance the quality of care. According to a follow-up study by IOM in 2006, each preventable medication error adds at least $8,750 to the cost of a hospital stay. Overall, medication errors cost insurers and health care providers in the nation up to $77 billion each year. The continued proliferation of medication errors is an endemic problem. Despite the ongoing evolution of health care technology and the federal push to institutionalize health IT through the meaningful use program, the costs of medication errors continue to permeate health care. Fortunately, errors, by their definition, are preventable. If we are willing to make the policy, regulatory, financial and time commitments necessary to mitigate the factors that contribute to such errors, we can prevent them.
To start, we must prioritize by targeting the area where medication errors occur most commonly: the administration of intravenous medication. According to a hospital study, an estimated 56% of medication errors are associated with the use of I.V. medications, and 90% of all hospital patients receive at least one infusion as part of their treatment. Nearly all hospital patients are potential victims if appropriate proactive measures are not taken to reduce errors that occur in connection with the use of I.V. medication.

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