Lighting the Way to Medication Safety:
Reducing Interruptions During Medication
Administration in CardioThoracic Surgery
Regi Freeman, MSN, RN, CNS; Bethany Lee-Lehner, BSN, RN;
Scott McKee, BSN, RN; & Jennifer Pesenecker, BSN, RN
4C Cardiothoracic Surgery Unit, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI
- An Observational study using a random sample of nurses administering medications to determine the number of interruptions pre and post implementation of interventions.
- Utilization of a standardized data collection tool to audit the number of interruptions.
- Reported medication errors were reviewed pre and post implementation.
- A bundle of safety interventions were implemented to reduce interruptions during medication administration:
- Lighted lanyards worn by nursing while administering medications
- Creation of a No Interruption Zone (NIZ) in the medication room
- Electronic Medication Administration Record review during shift report
- Scripting card to encourage dialogue between nursing staff and patients/family
- Phone scripts for clerks to triage calls
- Patient education via brochures and signs
- Letters to stakeholders regarding initiatives
Medication safety initiatives implemented
- Nursing is the last line of defense against errors.
- Nurses may not correlate the impact of interruptions on the potential for adverse outcomes.
- Many nurses take pride in their ability to multitask and handle interruptions.
- Medication error rates indicated an area for improvement.
- The purpose of this study was to decrease the number of interruptions thereby reducing the incidence of medication errors.
Obtained grant funding
The number of medication errors reported each month displays a downward trend since implementation.
Discussion & Conclusion
- Current literature describes significant adverse monetary and safety effects of medication errors in the inpatient hospital setting.
- Reasons medication errors occur:
- Unit layout
- Nurse fatigue
- Knowledge deficits
- Inexperienced staff
- Overhead pages
- Physician rounds
- Monitor & pump alarms
- Multidisciplinary interruptions
- Nurse, patient, & family questions
- Workload & nurse to patient ratios
- Pre-intervention observations:
- Interruptions averaged 3.29 times during medication administration.
- An average of 1.36 interruptions occurred during IV push medication administration.
- Patients, nurses, and family were the top 3 causes of interruptions pre-interventions.
- Post-intervention Observations:
- Interruptions average of 1.18 times during medication administration.
- An average of 1.25 interruptions occurred during IV push medication administration.
- Patients, nurses, and pagers were the top 3 causes of interruptions post-interventions.
- Implementing interventions can reduce the interruptions during medication administration.
- Reducing interruptions may decrease the number of medications errors that occur and can improve medication safety.
- Continued education, reminders, and auditing will provide continuous medication safety improvement.
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