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Health-System Pharmacists Embrace Medication Standardization Campaign

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Over the past decades it has been observed that standardization of Intravenous (IV) medical products and compounded oral liquid products is an important error prevention strategy in the process of patient healthcare. This is because these two types of medical products are used mainly while treating vulnerable patients and contain numerous high alert medications which can cause significant patient harm. Researches indicate that patients have been harmed because inpatient and outpatient pharmacies tend to dose medications differently. Medication standardization is mandatory because hospitals often use different concentrations of the same medication in different patient care areas. Even Children’s hospitals have been recognized as high-risk zone for drug concentration-related problems. To be precise, without standardization the error-risk potential increases significantly. Pre-determined standardized concentrations are recommended to be used throughout all hospital as a way to reduce medication errors that can occur when a patient is moved to different areas within a facility.

Looking at medication error statistics of the recent times in vulnerable cases, ASHP launched its FDA funded Standardize 4 Safety program, a multi-faceted initiative with a three-year horizon focused on creating and promoting national standard concentrations for intravenous (IV) and oral liquid medications. The program pledges to work towards reducing IV and oral liquid medication errors as well as enhance continuity of medications therapy for patients through transitions of care. The Standardize 4 Safety initiative consists of three phases. Phase I looks after concentrations and dosing units for adult continuous infusions and compounded oral liquids; Phase II looks into concentrations and dosing units for pediatric continuous infusions and standard doses of oral liquid medications; and Phase III addresses IV intermittent medications, patient-controlled analgesia (PCA) pumps, epidurals, and standard doses of oral chemotherapy agents.

To achieve its pre -determined goals ASHP had formulated an interdisciplinary expert panels for each area of focus and had used evidence-based methods to develop consensus on the standard concentration of the medications. Under the said program ASHP decided to recognize a nationwide expert faculty panel for each group of medication under radar, to determine the standard concentration formulator. After the decision was made by the panel, the standardized formulates were communicated through various measures including direct mail, email, educational programs, and a website created for this purpose, and their adoption by the pharmacists was assessed. Additionally, ASHP had also put its internal information team to develop a smart device app for teaching accurate measurement of oral liquid medications. The app is already under development and would consist of a formulator of all liquid medication.

This new-fangled relationship between the FDA and ASHP is a much needed step to ensure safe medication is provided to all the patients. These ensures that when a patient exits from a medical facility and are provided with oral liquid medications by their retail pharmacists it will be uniform in terms of concentration and instructions of consumption. Pharmacists play an indispensable role in maximizing the benefits of medication therapy outcomes and preventing any harm from being caused to patients. Standardize 4 Safety aims to combine the expertise of certified pharmacists with those of other healthcare professionals to lessen medication errors. Thus, ASHP has asked health system pharmacists to get involved with the Standardize 4 Safety communities through its online communication platform on ASHP connect. Many states and regions have devised lists of recommended standardized concentrations for certain medications and urged healthcare providers including pharmacists to adopt those concentrations and have received affirmative response. As a result we can see that standardization of medication therapy can reduce the chances of human error by a great measure and enhance the outcome of patient health in medical institutions.

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