Use "Housekeeping" Strategies in Med Rooms for Patient Safety

You can play a key role in reducing med room safety issues.

Use these simple "housekeeping" strategies regularly. They'll go a long way to protect patients.

Return any discontinued doses to the pharmacy...to prevent confusion and administration of meds patients shouldn't get.

For example, pick up old IV antibiotic doses when delivering new ones...so patients don't get extra or wrong doses.

If you're not sure if a med is still needed, check the patient's profile to see if the order is active...or ask the nurse.

Help ensure pharmacy policies are followed when patients are transferred...to avoid delays, errors, and other problems.

Leaving a patient's meds in a bin or drawer after they transfer out could lead to the next patient getting the wrong meds.

Stay alert for and remove expired meds...so patients don't get doses with compromised potency, stability, or sterility.

For instance, check beyond-use dates on insulin...hospitals often get dinged during regulatory visits due to outdated vials on patient care units.

Watch for short-stability meds...IV levothyroxine, IV TMP/SMX, etc. They may expire before they're given if administration is held up due to lost IV access, an unexpected procedure, or other issues.

Also dispose of used vials that aren't labeled with a beyond-use date...since there's no way of verifying they're still in-date.

If needed, consider how stock levels can be adjusted to reduce expired meds, overcrowding, and waste.

For example, IV infusions overflowing from bins in a tower could cause a nurse to grab the wrong med.

Avoid clutter by disposing of extra paper or packaging (fill lists, boxes, etc)...and returning extra baggies or rubber bands to the pharmacy for reuse when appropriate.

Be on the lookout for issues that should be reported to your admin or med safety officer...these may need to be widely addressed.

For instance, controlled meds left in a general med return bin may mean nursing staff need education on handling and security.

Dive deeper into this topic with our technician tutorials, The Ins and Outs of Pharmacy Inventory and Med Disposal in the Hospital.

Key References

  • www.ashp.org/-/media/assets/policy-guidelines/docs/technical-assistance-bulletins/technical-assistance-bulletins-hospital-drug-distribution-control.ashx (3-2-20)
  • www.apic.org/Resource_/TinyMceFileManager/Position_Statements/2016
    APICSIPPositionPaper.pdf (3-2-20)
Hospital Pharmacy Technician's Letter. March 2020, No. 360319



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