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J Patient Saf. 2017 Dec 12. doi: 10.1097/PTS.0000000000000445. [Epub ahead of print]

High-Alert Medication Stratification Tool-Revised: An Exploratory Study of an Objective, Standardized Medication Safety Tool.

Abstract

OBJECTIVE:

To develop an objective tool designed to standardize the identification of high-alert medications (HAMs) according to patient safety risk.

METHODS:

Medications were evaluated using the High-Alert Medication Stratification Tool (HAMST). Tool revision occurred through assessing medications on an organization-approved HAM list and comparing scores with control medications not included on the list. Because of variations in HAMST interpretation by end users in interdisciplinary committees, a revision of the scoring tool was completed to create the High-Alert Medication Stratification Tool-Revised (HAMST-R), and the assessment was repeated. Both tools range from 0 to 10, with 10 describing agents with highest risk.

RESULTS:

The median (interquartile range [IQR]) initial HAM (n = 44) score using HAMST was 6 (5-7). The median (IQR) control (n = 45) score was 1 (0-2). Using the modified tool, HAMST-R, the median (IQR) HAM score was 4 (4-6) versus 1 (0-1) for controls. Scores for HAMs were significantly higher than controls using both tools (P < 0.001). A HAMST-R score of 4 or higher defines medications as high alert, as this score includes 75% of HAMs and no controls.

CONCLUSIONS:

Through this exploratory study, clarification of the tool was required to increase its concurrent validity, interrater reliability, and implementation among other health systems. The revised tool, HAMST-R, is a newly developed, objective tool for standardized identification of HAMs. The tool may also be used for prospective identification of medications as high risk to patient safety during formulary review.

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