Medication safety teams' guided implementation of electronic medication administration records in five nursing homes
NLM Title Abbreviation
Jt Comm J Qual Patient Saf
Joint Commission journal on quality and patient safety
BACKGROUND: The 1.6 million nursing home residents in the United States are at high risk for adverse effects from medication errors. In an attempt to decrease medication errors and improve safety practices, from 2003 through 2007 the study investigators partnered with five Midwestern nursing homes in implementing electronic point-of-care medication administration records (eMARs) and focused quality improvement (QI) efforts. METHODS: The eMAR, designed by a vendor as a part of a larger integrated electronic health record, provided a point of information integration for a variety of users, including practitioners, nursing staff, medication administrators, and nursing home leadership. At each nursing home, a medication safety team guided the transition from traditional paper-based systems to the eMAR. RESULTS: The implementation and integration of the eMAR was monitored in more than 300 hours of detailed observation, resulting in nearly 16,000 medication doses across approximately 200 medication administrations (passes) for 3,700 residents. The types of medication errors most receptive to the combined impact of the eMAR and focused QI efforts were late and omitted (or missing) medications. DISCUSSION: Technology provided the structures and processes that improved communication and integrated complex processes. Yet, regardless of how effectively the technology was designed, it was "laid upon" nursing home medication administration systems that were archaic and fragmented. The implementation of technology could not solve chronic structure and process issues in isolation. However, using the technology to streamline processes, support effective decision making, integrate complex tasks, and bring real-time data to a medication safety team provided an effective mechanism to maximize the impact of technology and to minimize the unintended consequences of large-scale change.
Health Plan Implementation, Humans, Medical Order Entry Systems, Medication Errors/prevention & control, Nursing Homes/organization & administration/standards, Organizational Case Studies, Point-of-Care Systems, Quality Assurance, Health Care, United States
Published Article/Book Citation
Joint Commission journal on quality and patient safety , 35:1 (2009) pp.29-35.
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