Preventing medication errors in cancer chemotherapy.
Recommendations for preventing medication errors in cancer chemotherapy are made. Before a health care provider is granted privileges to prescribe, dispense, or administer antineoplastic agents, he or she should undergo a tailored educational program and possibly testing or certification. Appropriate reference materials should be developed. Each institution should develop a dose-verification process with as many independent checks as possible. A detailed checklist covering prescribing, transcribing, dispensing, and administration should be used. Oral orders are not acceptable. All doses should be calculated independently by the physician, the pharmacist, and the nurse. Dosage limits should be established and a review process set up for doses that exceed the limits. These limits should be entered into pharmacy computer systems, listed on preprinted order forms, stated on the product packaging, placed in strategic locations in the institution, and communicated to employees. The prescribing vocabulary must be standardized. Acronyms, abbreviations, and brand names must be avoided and steps taken to avoid other sources of confusion in the written orders, such as trailing zeros. Preprinted antineoplastic drug order forms containing checklists can help avoid errors. Manufacturers should be encouraged to avoid or eliminate ambiguities in drug names and dosing information. Patients must be educated about all aspects of their cancer chemotherapy, as patients represent a last line of defense against errors. An interdisciplinary team at each practice site should review every medication error reported. Pharmacists should be involved at all sites where antineoplastic agents are dispensed. Although it may not be possible to eliminate all medication errors in cancer chemotherapy, the risk can be minimized through specific steps. Because of their training and experience, pharmacists should take the lead in this effort.
Cohen, MR; Anderson, RW; Attilio, RM; Green, L; Muller, RJ; Pruemer, JM
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