First-of-its-kind medication management system increases patient safety and streamlines IV medication management
Minneapolis, Minn. – (May 8, 2013) – Children's Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota announced it has successfully implemented a new automated system which is significantly reducing medication errors by wirelessly transmitting data between patients' infusion pumps and electronic medical records (EMR).
Children's partnered with medical technology company, CareFusion Corp., and EMR provider, Cerner, to create the new wireless system. Now, when a nurse scans barcodes on patients' wristbands, medications, and infusion pumps, this closed-loop medication administration system wirelessly transmits doctors' medication orders from patients' EMRs directly to their smart pump to pre-program infusions. Then, after a patient's nurse reviews and confirms the smart pump programming, medication is delivered intravenously to the patient.
Eliminating the need for calculating medication doses by hand and manually programming the pump removes opportunities for human error. The new system also provides another added safeguard by sending out alerts if it detects a medication error – warning medical practitioners if dosages or medications are inaccurate, being administered too soon or too late, or if the patient's doctor has altered or canceled medications.
"Children are particularly vulnerable to medication errors because dosages must be carefully tailored by weight," said Bobbie Carroll, senior director of patient safety and informatics at Children's Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota. "The safety of our patients is what comes first. This new system adds an additional safety check to help us achieve that goal, while simultaneously allowing nurses to spend more time at the bedside."
The decision to implement the wireless system hospital-wide came after the recent completion of a successful six-week pilot at Children's pediatric intensive care unit. The pilot showed that over a one-month period, the closed-loop system triggered 234 "potential error alerts" to medical practitioners out of more than 11,000 doses of medication dispensed to patients.
While the vast majority of errors were minor and wouldn't result in harm, "potential errors" ranged from administering the medication more than 30 minutes too early or 30 minutes too late, to an absence of documentation, to the wrong medication. Since the beginning of the pilot, Children's has reduced adverse events by about 70 percent, from a rate of seven errors per 10,000 doses, to two per 10,000 doses.
"There is no other system like it in the country, but we expect it will catch on quickly," said Carroll. "We've already hosted several other hospitals to demonstrate this process and we anticipate it will deeply impact the current standard for intravenous medication administration delivery practices."
The implementation of the new closed-loop technology builds on a 20-year effort by Children's to enhance medication management and improve patient safety and operational efficiency. The new system earned Children's the Process/System Innovation Award from the Minnesota Alliance for Patient Safety, and the 2013 Way-Paver Award for Institutional Achievement from The TerraPharma Project.
Children's expects the automated technology will be fully implemented throughout both its Minneapolis and St. Paul campuses in 2013.
About Children's Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota:
Serving as Minnesota's children's hospital since 1924, Children's Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota is one of the largest pediatric health care organizations in the United States, with 381 staffed beds at its two hospitals in St. Paul and Minneapolis. An independent, not-for-profit health care system, Children's of Minnesota provides care through more than 12,000 inpatient visits and more than 300,000 emergency room and other outpatient clinic visits every year. Children's is the only Minnesota hospital system to provide comprehensive care exclusively to children. Please visit childrensMN.org.