California’s community hospitals provide high quality and safe patient care to people who are sick, critically ill and injured. Each year, millions of patients receive care in California’s acute care hospitals and virtually 100 percent of them receive at least one medication during their hospital stay. In addition, nearly all patients leave the hospital with a follow-up prescription.
Millions of prescriptions are written and the drugs are dispensed to hospitalized patients each year in California, and hospitals are dedicated to ensuring that each patient receives the right medication, in the right dosage, at the right time.
In addition to the medication given to patients while in a hospital, almost one-third of the general population takes at least five medications, and seniors tend to take more. The average Medicare patient is on 9.6 prescription medications.
The best way you can help to prevent errors is to be an active member of your health care team. That means taking part in every decision about your health care. Research shows that patients who are more involved with their care tend to get better results.
Sutter Health has built an extensive medication safety program which supports the “5 Rights of Medication Administration “ best-practice approach: Right Patient, Right Drug, Right Dose, Right Route, Right Time. The comprehensive safety and compliance program includes the following:
Medication errors can range from seemingly benign episodes, like giving a medication after the prescribed time period, to life-threatening incidents such as administering high-risk medications to the wrong patient. In 2005, Kaiser Permanente Northern California (KPNC) implemented an innovative new High Alert Medication Program to ensure safe medication practices and reduce all types of medication errors across the health system’s 21 hospitals.
In 2008, The Joint Commission established a national patient safety goal that required hospitals to develop plans for reducing the risk of adverse events from the use of blood thinners. In response, Cedars-Sinai pharmacists worked with the medical staff to establish protocols for initiating these medications, managing the doses, monitoring responses and transitioning patients to oral therapies.
The Patient’s Checklist is a book of 10 checklists that address many of the essentials for a hospital stay, including sections on what to bring with you, medication management, how to make your hospital stay safer and more comfortable, and planning for your discharge.
With a new automated hospital pharmacy, believed to be the nation’s most comprehensive, UCSF is using robotic technology and electronics to prepare and track medications with the goal of improving patient safety.