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CMH Medication Safety Tops National Average

Calvert Memorial Hospital scored 96.3 percent for medication safety on a survey conducted annually by the Institute of Safe Medicine Practices (ISMP) – surpassing the national average of 71 percent and the statewide median of 77 percent by a wide margin.

“For a hospital our size, this is just phenomenal,” said CMH Pharmacy Director Kara Harrer, PharmD.  She credits the hospital’s interdisciplinary approach and the comprehensive system of safeguards in place at Calvert Memorial for the excellent outcome. Last year, there were 872,966 doses dispensed and the pharmacy reviewed 340,810 prescription orders. 

The in-depth survey, which has 270 questions, looks at how well each facility practices medication safety. It examines key elements such as patient information, staff education and drug communication, as well as labeling, monitoring and delivery devices. The survey results help hospitals target areas for improvement.

“Here at CMH, we actively promote a culture of safety,” said Dr. Mahesh Shah, who chairs the hospital’s Medication Usage Safety Team. “I’m proud of our multidisciplinary team for their achievements as safety of our patients is our prime concern.”

The team, which includes physicians, nurses and pharmacists, meets regularly to develop protocols and procedures and to evaluate drug usage against evidenced-based best practice. “They are a vital component and driver of medication safety at the hospital,” said Susan Dohony, vice president for quality and risk management at CMH. 

In the past four years, Calvert Memorial has added many computerized systems – including bar coding and order entry – to prevent errors caused by poor handwriting. These investments in information technology are continuing to pay dividends in terms of improved patient safety. Additionally, CMH pharmacists are available 24/7 to provide clinical consultation.

“I’ve been at several hospitals and the level of commitment, dedication and thoroughness of the pharmacists here is unsurpassed,” said Dr. Chang Choi, who heads up the adult hospitalist program. Looking ahead for 2012, the hospital plans to add new smart pump technology that will enhance the safety of medications that are delivered intravenously. This technology will benefit every patient that comes to the facility.

Other plans include the widespread implementation of computerized pysician order entry (CPOE) throughout CMH. According to Marc Stearman, who directs the hospital’s medical informatics department, this new technology has been shown to improve medication safety by reducing medication errors and adverse events, as well as both help standardize care while also improving the efficiency of the care delivered.

The best way you can help to prevent errors is to be an active member of your healthcare team. That means taking part in every decision about your health care. Research shows that patients who are more involved with their care tend to get better results.

  • Make sure that all of your doctors know about every medicine you take.
  • Bring a complete, up-to-date list to your doctor visits.
  • Make sure your doctor knows about any allergies and adverse reactions you have had to medicines.
  • When your doctor writes a prescription for you, make sure you can read it.
  • Ask for information about your medicines in terms you can understand – both when your medicines are prescribed and when you get them.
  • When you pick up your medicine from the pharmacy, ask: Is this the medicine that my doctor prescribed? If you have any questions about the directions on your medicine labels, ask.
  • Ask your pharmacist for the best way to measure your liquid medicine. 
  • Read carefully information about the side effects your medicine could cause.


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