Guideline for Medication Safety

Loose pills that meet medication safety guidelines in AORN MAN-879D-2020.

The Guideline for Medication Safety, AORN MAN-879D-2020, is a document published by the Association of periOperative Registered Nurses (AORN), which serves as the largest professional organization for perioperative nurses and defines standardized practices for perioperative (referring to the period covering the duration of a patient’s surgical procedure) professionals.

The Value of Medication

Medication has become crucial for, well, living. Centuries of research and practice have uncovered bodies of knowledge regarding medical ailments that detriment us somatically and psychologically. Medication often is needed to improve or maintain the health and comfort of patients. In fact, nearly one-third of adults in the United States take five or more medications. Continuous advancements in clinical therapeutics have certainly improved the health of patients but medications are still increasingly risky.

Nearly five percent of hospital patients experience an adverse drug effect (ADE), making it one of the most common types of inpatient errors. However, the occurrence of an ADE does not necessarily indicate poor quality care or error; that is instead a medication error. There are six phases of the medication use process:

  • procuring medication
  • prescribing medication
  • transcribing medication orders
  • dispensing medication
  • administering medication
  • monitoring patient outcomes

Literature has indicated that medication errors can occur at any time during any one of these phases.

Development of the Guideline for Medication Safety

In fact, a succinct evidence review was key to the development and publication of AORN MAN-879D-2020, in which multiple databases were searched systematically, looking for literature published in English over several years. Searches for subject headings relevant to medication treatment, misuse, and related topics were carried out to compile research and non-research literature, complete publications, and publications within the dates of the time restriction. Relevant guidelines from government agencies, professional organizations, and standards bodies were also identified.

What resulted was the Guideline for Medication Safety, AORN MAN-879D-2020, a document intended to assist with decreasing medication errors throughout the six phases of the medication use process. Its guidance is intended to be used by perioperative team members for developing, implementing, and evaluating safety precautions.

About AORN MAN-879D-2020

The phases of the medication use process, for the most part, are identical in all practice settings. However, there are some considerations unique to the perioperative setting, such as that the transcription and documentation phase may be omitted or modified, medication is removed from the original manufacturer’s packaging for aseptic delivery to the sterile field, and medications dispensed to the sterile field may be handled by multiple individuals before administration.

These issues factor into the content of the Guideline for Medication Safety, which presents a series of recommendations for limiting medication error. At the heart of this guidance is the establishment of a multidisciplinary team that oversees the medication management plan and consists of perioperative RNs, risk management or quality personnel, licensed independent practitioners, pharmacists, administrators, and others.

Additional recommendations found in AORN MAN-879D-2020 walk the document user through different activities that make up the main phases of the medication use process, offering varying methods to minimize risk that have been selected carefully with the support of the most advanced peer-reviewed knowledge.

AORN MAN-879D-2020: Guideline for Medication Safety is available on the ANSI Webstore.

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