CDH Introduces New Program To Help Reduce Medication Errors

NORTHAMPTON — Cooley Dickinson Hospital says if you are taking medication, write it down.


Last fall, the hospital, in partnership with Cooley Dickinson-affiliated physicians began distributing yellow medication lists housed in tyvek sleeves as incentives to get community members to document their medications and other important health information, and carry the lists with them in a wallet or purse. Last month, the hospital’s Emergency Department reported an increase in the number of written lists from patients visiting the hospital for urgent care.

Cooley’s efforts to educate patients about medication safety is part of a national trend called medication reconciliation, a process for ensuring that each patient is being administered all intended medications and no unintended medications, says Shannon Dillard, RN of the CDH Quality Improvement Department.

According to a recent Wall Street Journal article, medication-reconciliation programs are one of the half-dozen best practices that hospitals are undertaking as part of the Institute for Healthcare Improvement’s ‘100,000 Lives’ campaign, which aims to enlist 1,600 hospitals across the country to adopt changes in care that have been proven to prevent deaths due to medical errors. Cooley Dickinson is one of 450 hospitals nationwide participating in this program designed to avoid medication errors such as wrong drugs or doses.

At CDH, medication reconciliation efforts involve three concepts: collecting a complete list of medications at the time a patient is admitted; using a double-check process that asks doctors, nurses and pharmacists to cross check the list of the patient’s existing medications with medications ordered during hospitalization, and distributing a complete and comprehensive list of medications for the patient to follow when they are discharged from the hospital.