Background Failure Mode and Effect Analysis (FMEA) is a tool to identify, assess and prevent possible failures that could occur in a process.
To describe FMEA as a method to identify weaknesses in the process of prescription and transcription of medical orders.
To isolate the key steps according to their risk priority number (RPN).
To report the steps taken.
Materials and Methods A multidisciplinary study group was assembled. Possible errors in the prescription/transcription workflow were identified and classified according to their RPN score (calculated by multiplying the severity, occurrence, and detection). Strategies for improvement were established.
Results Errors in the prescription were classified as follows: (1) Patient-and-history identification, (2) Clinical and laboratory data checkout, (3) Treatment conciliation, (4) Allergies, (5) Verbal prescription, (6) Handwritten prescription. Errors in transcription: (7) Patient identification (nurse), (8) Internally mailed prescriptions, (9) Paper transcription, (10) Check in pharmacy, (11) Patient identification (pharmacist), (12) Prescription validation, (13) Prescription printing, and (14) Acknowledgement of errors by the pharmacist. Top-ranked item (number), suggested solution, and indicator, respectively were: (5) Verbal prescription (288), storage of verbal prescriptions in pharmacy, % of verbal prescriptions; (9) Failure in paper transcription (288), computerised physician order entry (CPOE), % of electronic prescriptions; (14) Error report to the pharmacist (288), implementation of a two-way communication protocol, number of reports; (8) Paper-based prescriptions sent to pharmacy (243), CPOE, % of electronic prescriptions; (10) Check in pharmacy (216), CPOE, % of electronic prescriptions. The pharmacy, medical director, and Quality Unit were responsible for the changes undertaken in all cases.
Conclusions Verbal prescription, failure in paper transcription, error report and mailed prescriptions to pharmacy were the steps with the highest risk of error. For most cases, CPOE was implemented, whereas the percentage of electronic prescriptions was the key indicator to measure the overall improvement in these processes. In conclusion, further efforts and pharmacy policies should focus on the implementation of CPOE in all inpatient areas, thus preventing failure of prescription/transcription and validation loops.
No conflict of interest.
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