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Medication Safety Spotlight

Julie Painter, MSN RN OCN - Clinical Nurse Specialist, Community Health Network

How did you come to work on medication safety issues in your organization?
My interest peaked in medication safety many years ago due to my expertise in oncology. It truly peaked as we watched the events with Dana Farber unfold and other chemotherapy errors across the nation. I continued that interest but then became the network champion to facilitate selection of infusion pumps and have worked to integrate technology and tools to enhance patient safety with medication administration. I serve on our network medication safety committee, pump integration team (CareFusion and epic interface); pump guardrail team and have been the facilitator of implementing end tidal CO2 monitoring on all post-operative patients in our network.

What has been your most impactful or favorite medication safety initiative?
Smart pump technology and end tidal CO2 utilization on all post-operative patients.

What is your best advice to other healthcare professionals about medication safety?
To realize that medication safety is the responsibility of an entire team and that it is a system/process from prescribing to administration. We must be engaged and involved and understand implications for our bedside staff, providers and patients.   A connection to bedside staff will often be the open book that you need to find areas in need of improvement and to enhance safe patient care delivery. Improvement should be 24/7 and it is never done… We must always look for areas that create the opportunity for harm to be introduced and then use the tools we have to improve.

What major changes do you hope to see in medication safety practice over the next 5-10 years?
Better integration and interface of tools at the bedside that help alert providers to interactions and contraindications by data entered into the medical record. I would hope that we learn that many medication errors occur because of lack of communication between providers and EMR’s, that many things happen because of too many medications and often not looking at the whole picture and the patient. I also think we must be prepared better to understand homeopathic treatments, essential oils, herbs, and natural substances and their impact on medications.


Julie works with the Center for Medication Safety Advancement on various Indianapolis Patient Safety Coalition initiatives.

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