A new national study of 1,039 nurses contracted by The American Nurses Association (ANA) highlighted the possible reasons behind most of the injectable medication errors in our hospitals (as covered in another article).
One "solution" adopted by some nurses to prevent such errors is to pre-label the syringes well in advance.
But that specifically violates the guidelines specified by the Joint Commission's 2007 National Patient Safety Goals document which demand that the syringe labels be prepared only at the time when the medication is prepared.
The solution to all this is really not that mysterious at all and lies in a simple technological innovation: syringes that come with built-in writable strips on their barrels.
95% of nurses said such syringes, since they will not cover the graduation markings, will make it easy to read the correct amount of medication.
Moreover, 93% also said such improved visibility would also reduce the number of medication errors at the hospitals and healthcare facilities.
Just like the safety syringes with retractable needles or protective needle sheaths used by 81% of the nurses surveyed, such "writable syringes" should also become a standard equipment in all hospitals.
Actually such syringes do exist and are already manufactured by companies like Inviro. I hope their use will spread through the industry to reduce medication errors.
Last but not least, I believe this case again points at the importance of nurse participation in the decision making process of health organizations.
Not only the nurses are the best qualified parties to recommend optimal methods to reduce such errors (by, for example, adopting writable syringes) but they are also the ones who suffer the most from syringe-related accidents.
The ANA study has found out, for example, that 35% of nurseries are worried about "getting HIV or hepatitis from a needlestick injury" and for good reason.
Increased decision-making participation would not also make it easier to find the correct solution to medication errors but also help the healthcare workers design and implement a much safer and more efficient working environment. We owe it that much to the hardworking nurses in all our hospitals.