Policy Change in Hospitals to Save Lives

News Note

By Lara Evans Bracciante

Originally published in Massage & Bodywork magazine, April/May 2005.

To help reduce the more than 98,000 U.S. deaths resulting from medication errors, a new protocol has been adopted by the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations. The practice reduces incorrect pharmaceutical use by ensuring that healthcare professionals are aware of all their patients’ medications, rather than just those being used for the condition currently under examination. A comprehensive list of patients’ medications helps doctors avoid potentially lethal interactions. The drug list is reviewed at admission, discharge, and before transferring patients to another care unit.

The protocol, tested in Massachusetts, reduced medication errors by 50 percent, resulting in 20 percent fewer adverse reactions in patients. A goal for hospitals in 2005, the policy is scheduled to become a standard by 2006.