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Open Access Emerg Med. 2014 Jul 23;6:45-55. doi: 10.2147/OAEM.S64174. eCollection 2014.

Strategies for reducing medication errors in the emergency department.

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North Carolina Public Health Preparedness and Response, North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, Raleigh, NC, USA.
University of Kentucky HealthCare, Department of Pharmacy Services, Department of Pharmacy Practice and Science, University of Kentucky College of Pharmacy, Lexington, KY, USA.


Medication errors are an all-too-common occurrence in emergency departments across the nation. This is largely secondary to a multitude of factors that create an almost ideal environment for medication errors to thrive. To limit and mitigate these errors, it is necessary to have a thorough knowledge of the medication-use process in the emergency department and develop strategies targeted at each individual step. Some of these strategies include medication-error analysis, computerized provider-order entry systems, automated dispensing cabinets, bar-coding systems, medication reconciliation, standardizing medication-use processes, education, and emergency-medicine clinical pharmacists. Special consideration also needs to be given to the development of strategies for the pediatric population, as they can be at an elevated risk of harm. Regardless of the strategies implemented, the prevention of medication errors begins and ends with the development of a culture that promotes the reporting of medication errors, and a systematic, nonpunitive approach to their elimination.


emergency medicine; medication errors; pediatrics; pharmacists; pharmacy

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