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Ideas That Work: A Safer Way to Search for Medications
Publish Date: August 4, 2022   |  Tags:   Ideas That Work Patient Safety
EXTRA LETTERS OF PROTECTION Programming dispensing cabinets to require typing the first five letters of the desired medication before they open can reduce serious medication mistakes.

The practice of requiring healthcare workers to search for medications by typing in at least the first five letters of the intended drug into automated dispensing cabinets (ADCs) would go a long way toward preventing potentially dangerous errors, says the Institute for Safe Medication Practices (ISMP). “We have seen repeatedly that problems can occur with drug-name searches when fewer than five letter characters are typed to select specific agents,” says ISMP President Emeritus Michael Cohen, RPh, MS, ScD (hon.), DPS (hon.). “Very few drug name pairs start with the same five letters.” The simplest fix, according to Dr. Cohen, is to employ the minimum five-letter search on ADCs. The default setting for this feature is off on cabinets from one major manufacturer, so staff will need to turn it on. The other primary ADC manufacturer is working on a software update that will add the feature later this year. OSM