Everyone knows that interruptions lead to mistakes. For nurses even the smallest of disruption when handling medication could result in a deadly error.
The nurses at the 262-bed South Jersey Hospital, in Vineland, N.J., are getting a handle on this risk by using Anywhere RN. The technology, developed by Mountain View, Calif.-based Omnicell, makes it possible for nurses to review and order from Omnicell’s medication dispensing cabinets from any workstation in the hospital. Ask Suzanne Accordino, assistant nurse manager of surgical intensive care unit at South Jersey Hospital, how nurses are interrupted, and she reels off a few examples. “It would be doctors coming in to see patients and they want to talk to the nurse who’s caring for the patient. The telephone rings – lab, X-ray, the pharmacy, the patient’s family calling up. The patient buzzing the nurse with a call light.”
“There’s literally hundreds if not thousands of interruptions a day.” said Joseph Alessandrini, vice president, clinical service, and administrative director of pharmaceutical care and drug information services at South jersey Hospital. “This has been an ongoing challenge in my 30 years in healthcare,” Alessandrini said. “We all know that whether it’s a pharmacist, a nurse, or somebody, that if you’re in the middle of doing something, and I interrupt you and break your train of thought, the chance of an error goes up.”
A recent study published in Archives of Internal Medicine shows that the risk of a serious medication error doubles when a nurse is interrupted four or more times in the course of a drug administration. The study results showed that 19 percent of drug administrations measured were error-free, and while most errors resulted in little or no harm to the patient, 2.5 percent of the errors resulted in significant patient harm.
Besides adding technology, South Jersey hospital has also implemented “safety zones” where nurses tending to medications are not to be disturbed. Using pre- and post-implementation measurements and surveys related to Omnicell’s Anywhere RN, South Jersey Healthcare determined that its nurses spent 33 percent less time at the automated dispensing cabinet. Also, more than 60 percent of nursing staff reported that their medication administration efficiency has increased.
Fifty-four percent of the nurses reported reduced interruptions in the medication administration process, and 64 percent said they believe patient safety was improved using Anywhere RN.
Anywhere RN shortens time at the cabinet. Nurses can request medication from anywhere in the hospital and they will be queued up in the cabinet. It helps reduce trips to the cabinet, Alessandrini said.
Anywhere RN saves nurses steps “by providing nurses an intuitive workflow.” said Jennifer Cartright, senior product manager, Omnicell. “This workflow also allows the nurse to avoid distractions during the medication administration process as recommended by the Institute for Safe Medication Practices.”