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Medication Safety Spotlight

Kaitlyn Dana - Medication Safety Fellow, Center for Medication Safety Advancement

How did you become interested in medication safety? I became interested in medication safety during pharmacy school. I had the opportunity to take a medication safety elective that involved completing root cause analysis as well as developing process improvement plans. It allowed me to think strategically to solve problems with the ultimate goal of accurate handling of medication and keeping patients safe. Dr. Wheeler from the University of Connecticut truly helped to foster this interest during her Medication Safety APPE rotation giving me the opportunity to make actual changes in response to real concerns in the hospital setting. In addition to this, I volunteered for a variety of medication error and adverse drug event projects throughout my fourth year of pharmacy school which further solidified my passion for medication safety.

How has the Center for Medication Safety Advancement (CMSA) influenced your view of medication safety? CMSA has influenced my view of medication safety beyond the limits of a single institution. The Medication Safety Experts at CMSA work on a multitude of initiatives that impact and promote medication safety across the state, country, and world. Whether it is teaching medication safety to the next generation of pharmacy students at Purdue, optimizing pharmacy legislation in the state of Indiana, contracting with various health-systems to teach ways to achieve better outcomes, promoting more effective use of hospital technology, or presenting at international conferences to communicate medication safety to healthcare providers around the world. CMSA has allowed me to realize there is no boundary on the impact we have the potential to make.

What advice would you give to pharmacy students about medication safety? My advice to pharmacy students would be if your pharmacy program offers a course, elective, or rotation in medication safety - take advantage of that opportunity! Learning about medication safety will provide you with helpful tools you can apply to any healthcare setting and begin to develop your strategic thinking to identify potential errors prior to them happening. I would also advise pharmacy students to be attentive. While you are on your APPE rotations you have the valuable opportunity to see a variety of styles of medication safety across many organizations. Take note of what processes were effective and not effective with medication management and delivery of appropriate care.

What do you think is the greatest medication safety challenge for new practitioners? I believe the greatest medication safety challenge for new practitioners is having the courage to speak up. When starting a new job, we tend to want to follow in the footsteps of our new mentors taking on both their good and possibly not so good habits. We have to remember that just because “this is the way it has always been” does not make it safe and effective. Medication safety can, and should, be promoted in all healthcare institutions (i.e. community, hospital, industry, regulatory). Just because we do not have as many years of experience, does not mean we shouldn’t stand up for a safe and effective workflow. If practices at your institution are potentially putting patients at risk of harm, do not wait for something terrible to happen, speak up.

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