Toxicology in the Service of Patient and Medication Safety: a Selected Glance at Past and Present Innovations
Medical and medication errors remain definite threats to patients in US health care. Medical toxicologists frequently encounter patients either harmed by or at risk for harm from adverse drug events, including medication errors and inadvertent exposures. An historical perspective, as viewed through the lens of specific disciplines, can be useful to trace systemic responses to safety threats. Early efforts to address anesthesia perioperative risks and recent actions in medicine, surgery, and obstetrics to introduce checklists, communication tools, and systems approaches are reviewed. Patient safety concepts can be utilized and disseminated by toxicologists to improve medication safety and drive innovative approaches to confront patient harm. Various approaches include simulation of high-risk scenarios which might predispose to medication error, assembling multidisciplinary groups of health care providers to review events and implement mitigation strategies, and proactive patient safety rounds in clinical areas to allow frontline staff to voice concerns and introduce solutions for administration, evaluation, and implementation. We review selected lessons from the past and current innovations to achieve safe medication practice.