Magazine article Drug Topics

Eyeing Errors

Magazine article Drug Topics

Eyeing Errors

Article excerpt

USP goes on-line with new drug error reporting plan

A new chapter in the history of drug error reporting is unfolding with the development of MedMARx by the U.S. Pharmacopeia. At press time, USP said 30 hospitals are involved in a beta test of the new program, which will be ready for national launch on July 27.

Unveiled at the recent ASHP annual meeting in Baltimore, MedMARx does three things, said Diane Cousins, USP v.p. for practitioner reporting programs. First, it allows hospitals to anonymously document and report their drug errors via the Internet in a standardized way. Errors are classified according to their severity, based on an A-to-I system set up by the National Coordinating Council for Medication Error Reporting & Prevention. Second, hospitals can find out whether other facilities had the same error and what they did to prevent it from recurring. Third, with enough data in the system, hospitals should be able to benchmark against "best practice" facilities with similar profiles.

Since MedMARx is a national database, hospitals can find out what policies and protocols were changed in facilities following a drug error. "Ultimately, they can learn in advance if they monitor the system on a regular basis, they don't have to wait until an error occurs [in their own hospital]," Cousins said. She recommended that hospitals use MedMARx as an internal program for teaching quality improvement. She added that MedMARx addresses the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations' concern that hospitals need to have a system established to capture and analyze drug errors.

No fancy equipment is needed to use MedMARx. All hospitals need are "a quick PC, a good modem, and browser software. They don't need to have IT support," Cousins said.

USP already has a drug error reporting system in place called the Medication Errors Reporting (MER) Program. But while the MER program, which accepts drug incident reports by mail, fax, phone, or computer, is presented in conjunction with the Institute for Safe Medication Practices (ISMP), MedMARx is offered by USP alone.

MedMARx has the potential to draw many drug error reports, "if it is real successful, which I hope it is," commented Michael Cohen, president of ISMP. Drug errors could be brought to light much earlier under the new system, which could "possibly save some people some grief. …

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