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Medication Safety Spotlight

Samantha Burton - Medication Safety, Quality, and Informatics Fellow with Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences and St. Vincent Hospital

How did you become interested in medication safety? I first became interested when I participated in the medication safety course while at Purdue. Then I completed an internship with CMSA and a rotation in the medication safety department at the FDA. After both experiences, I knew this was an area that I would love to practice in because of the ability to make a big impact by optimizing patient outcomes and educating healthcare professionals throughout the process.

How has the Center for Medication Safety Advancement (CMSA) influenced your view of medication safety? While interning at CMSA, I learned the magnitude with which medication errors occur, their harmful impact in every area of patient care, and the significant role a pharmacist can play in error prevention. CMSA opened my eyes to the endless research opportunities available in medication safety and how beneficial that research is to practice. My main project focused on differences in medication error rates between intravenous push methods, but I also had the opportunity to look at medication errors that could occur during the dispensing process in the community setting. No matter what therapeutic area or practice setting you are interested in there is always a way to prevent medication errors. 

What advice would you give to other pharmacy students about medication safety? Medication safety should always be on your mind as a student and one day as a practicing clinician. Always question how a process is being conducted if it is leading to errors. Just because it seems like everyone does it that way does not mean it’s the only way or the right way. Brainstorm and hypothesize new ways the process can be carried out to result in fewer errors.

What do you think is the greatest medication safety challenge for new practitioners? I think the greatest challenge is realizing medication errors can still occur even with updated electronic systems that seem to be infallible and having the confidence and support to question the current process if it can be improved upon.

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