Background High alert medications (HAM) are drugs that bear a heightened risk of causing significant patient harm when used in error. The Institute for Safe Medication Practices (ISMP) created and periodically updates a list of potential HAM for acute care settings. The Joint Commission requires that hospitals have their own list of HAM and a process in place for managing those medications.
Purpose To evaluate the degree of knowledge of HAM among health professionals at a university hospital.
Material and methods This was a descriptive cross sectional study in a university hospital with 1200 beds. The survey remained open for a period of 2 months between February and March 2016. The survey was developed by consensus with a panel of 5 hospital pharmacists and the quality coordinator. The survey was disseminated to prescribers, pharmacy and nursing staff throughout the hospital via email communication in order to assess differences across professionals. The survey was anonymous and voluntary. Responders were unpaid. The survey consisted of 4 questions with 4 response options and 1 correct answer. The first question assessed the knowledge of the definition of HAM. The second and third questions were about differences between HAM and others medications. The fourth question was knowledge of the list of HAM in poster format, developed by the pharmacy department of the hospital, placed in all hospital units. There was also a section for suggestions. The estimated response time was 5 min. Descriptive statistics were used to report the results of the survey.
Results The survey was sent to a total of 771 health professionals. 131 responses (17%) were received. Among the professionals who responded, 60% were physicians, 25% nurses and 15% pharmacists. 81.5% of survey participants were able to correctly define a HAM, 50% did not identify the HAM (70.3% were physicians, 23.5% nurses and 6.2% pharmacist). 74% of survey participants were unaware of the existence of a HAM poster in their hospital unit. For the suggestions section, 70% called for training sessions regarding HAM.
Conclusion Based on the results obtained from the survey, we found that there was a good degree of knowledge deficiency about HAM. Further education is needed regarding HAM to guarantee patient safety.
References and/or acknowledgements ISMP.
No conflict of interest
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