1. Alexander, Mary BS, CRNI

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Infusion professionals know a lot about medication safety. As nurses who administer intravenous drugs every day, we see plenty of areas that beg for innovation and improvement in safety mechanisms. Yet despite growing awareness of medication safety issues and advances in the technology of medication delivery systems, medication errors continue to be a serious healthcare problem. Intravenous medications in particular carry risks at the ordering stage or in their administration. Adverse drug events involving IV medications often involve fast-acting, powerful substances injected directly into the patient's bloodstream, and there is no recall mechanism once the medication is in the patient's circulation. Although there are numerous benefits to administering drugs intravenously, the drawbacks of its associated errors have yet to be addressed in a manner that considers both human and system errors together.

FIGURE. Mary Alexand... - Click to enlarge in new windowFIGURE.

As the leader in infusion nursing, INS was thrilled to participate in a recent invitational symposium "State of the Science on Safe Medication Administration," in which we partnered with the American Journal of Nursing (AJN), The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, and the University of Pennsylvania Hospital and School of Nursing. The symposium turned out to be one of the most productive efforts to address medication safety; such efforts have never been addressed simultaneously or with such a multidisciplinary group. The 2-day meeting (on July 16 and 17) drew speakers from across the practice spectrum, including clinicians, industry research and development professionals, educators, and consumer and regulatory sector members. Through a mix of presentations, group sessions, and panel discussions, we identified the barriers to safe medication administration, discussed new approaches to overcoming these barriers, offered clinical and policy recommendations, and discussed research priorities that surround best practices for safety in all settings. It was encouraging to see such fruitful collaboration as we were challenged to "think outside the box" on this complex issue.


As one of the symposium's organizers, INS will be involved in future dissemination of the results of this meeting. Information from the meeting will be shared in several formats: through publication in the Journal of Infusion Nursing, AJN, and other nursing journals; through online publication at; and through a media outreach effort that we hope will stimulate greater interest in medication safety among the popular media. In March 2005, a peer-reviewed monograph of the symposium's policy and research recommendations will run in this journal as well as in AJN and other selected nursing journals, so that you may share these important findings with your colleagues and administrators. Abstracts of the symposium's recommendations will also be distributed at nursing and health-related meetings throughout the year, and participants will be encouraged to share the symposium's executive summary online, through this journal, and through other publications. The media outreach effort, undertaken by AJN, will include press releases to journalists, TV, radio, and MAT releases.


INS was pleased to be a part of this important project in program development, facilitating industry panel and future involvement with dissemination of the findings. We know that INS members are intimately involved in and acutely aware of the problem of medication safety, and we want to raise awareness of this issue to facilitate progress.


INS' involvement-and yours-will help us to disseminate knowledge so the issue of medication safety is effectively addressed and positive patient outcomes are realized.