Reducing Cardiovascular Medication Errors

In-hospital medication errors contribute significantly to the estimated 44,000 to 98,000 deaths that are caused each year by medical errors. Cardiovascular medications are one of the most common drug classes that have historically been associated with medication errors. Hospitals have improved since a 2002 medications error position statement was released by the American Heart Association (AHA), most notably advances in electronic medical records and procedures to avoid confusing “look-alike” and “sound-alike” drugs at the prescription, pharmacy, and administration levels.  “It’s everyone’s responsibility to be vigilant and ensure that the right patient receive the right medication, the right dose, and the right delivery route.” While modest improvement has occurred, other areas are still lacking enhancements. For example, the ED is an area where it’s easy for clinicians to make medication errors because of the speed at which patients receive care. Older patients are often at higher risk because of age-related changes in how their bodies metabolize drugs. They may also take multiple medications, many of which can interact with cardiovascular drugs. Furthermore, there continues to be errors made in the fields of stroke—because of the use of blood thinners and anti-clotting drugs—and cardiac catheterization, where problems frequently occur as patients are transitioned from departments within the hospital. 8 Critical Recommendations In the April 13, 2010 issue of Circulation, an AHA writing committee released a new scientific statement to help reduce medication errors among hospitalized heart and stroke patients. Eight recommendations were unveiled for medication safety in acute cardiovascular care: 1. An accurate weight should be obtained on admission. 2. Estimated creatinine clearance should be calculated with the Cockcroft-Gault formula on admission and as...