Reducing Medication Errors Through Clinical Management

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Karen Utterback By Karen Utterback 
Vice President, Product Marketing and Strategy, McKesson

Home Health Software Clinical Management Key to Reduce Medication ErrorsThere are many advantages of bringing clinical management practices to the bedside, including bringing visibility into the health record and enabling the capture of data and information at the point of care, which help reduce the risk of errors occurring.

A landmark report from the Institute of Medicine prepared for CMS in 2006 estimates that more than 1.5 million adverse drug events occur in the United States each year. Of those, one-third were estimated to occur among outpatient Medicare patients. The report concludes that the number of ADEs is likely higher still.

Medication reconciliation is an important part of the clinical process. It is not unusual for patients receiving home health and hospice to be taking 12 or more medications, and medication errors have been identified as playing a significant factor in rehospitalizations. These factors make it even more important that the clinician have tools to support the medication reconciliation process.

Clinical decision support systems can help reduce medication errors with functionality to support medication reconciliation and medication management as clinicians either check patients’ medication records already in their clinical management system or manually input the drugs a patient takes. Any clinical management system should include a check for possible drug-to-drug, drug-to-allergy and drug-to-food interactions that could cause problems. The system also should be dynamic, running those checks again when medications are added or subtracted from a patient’s chart.

A strong case can be made for the use of Tall Man Letters, which can help care providers and patients distinguish between medications with similar-sounding names that can have widely different uses. The FDA has developed a list of more than three dozen medications with suggested Tall Man alternatives. The Institute for Safe Medication Practices has greatly expanded that list using best practice methodologies.

Easy-to-use medication reconciliation and medication management should be components of any comprehensive clinical management system, helping clinicians make the right decisions at the point of care.

Learn more about how new advances in home health software can support the medication reconciliation process.

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