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"Cheers" for medication safety: Celebrating those who made a difference in 2002

From the December 18, 2002 issue

With great pleasure, ISMP held its Fifth Annual CHEERS Awards Dinner last week at the ASHP Midyear Clinical Meeting in Atlanta to honor some extraordinary organizations, companies, and individuals who have set a standard of excellence this year in the prevention of medication errors.

Loud CHEERS rang out for two hospitals that have raised the bar in their quest for medication safety. Concord Hospital, in New Hampshire, was honored for its innovative Collaborative Care Model, which involves patients and families as integral members of the healthcare team when visited during interdisciplinary clinical rounds. Measured results show better clinical and safety outcomes as well as enhanced satisfaction for patients, families, and staff. CHEERS also were awarded to Brigham & Women's Hospital in Boston, MA, for actively seeking out potential adverse drug events through an automated monitoring system that scans electronic medication orders and lab values. Pharmacists' use of the information has resulted in improved patient outcomes.

CHEERS were presented to three recipients for their exemplary roles in research, education, and information dissemination. Anthony Grasha, PhD, Professor of Psychology at the University of Cincinnati in Ohio, was honored for his study of human and psychosocial factors and their relationship to staff performance and job satisfaction. In 2002, Dr. Grasha published five research articles that applied social and cognitive psychology to understanding and avoiding human error. The California HealthCare Foundation iHealth & Technology Program, based in Oakland, CA, was honored for its effective dissemination of iHealth Reports, an ongoing series of information, forecasts, and surveys that examine the development and deployment of new information technologies. CHEERS also went to Temple University School of Pharmacy in Philadelphia, PA, for establishing the first uniquely designed curriculum dedicated to medication safety. This certificate program consists of four semester-long courses and two clinical rotations in organizations with an active medication safety program.

Three of our CHEERS Awards recipients were honored for influencing public policy with their unwavering support of medication safety. Steve Meisel, PharmD, Director of Medication Safety for Fairview Health Services in Minneapolis, MN, was honored for his ongoing mentorship of local medication safety initiatives and his presentation this year to the US Department of Health and Human Services Advisory Committee on Regulatory Reform about problems related to medication labeling, packaging, and nomenclature. His testimony was instrumental in the Secretary's call for the pharmaceutical industry to test the safety of new trademarks and packages before market launch. The US Pharmacopeia Center for the Advancement of Patient Safety, in Rockville, MD, was honored for its resolute support of voluntary reporting of medication errors and its tireless work with the US congressional staff to help shape healthcare policy related to the protection of error reports and other patient safety data to encourage reporting without fear of legal retribution. Beverley Orser, MD, PhD, FRCPC, an anesthesiologist and co-founder of ISMP-Canada, was honored for helping to bring the issue of medication safety to the Canadian government's attention, gaining support for several local initiatives to reduce medication errors, and for her pioneering work and achievements in the field of medication safety in anesthesiology.

A very special CHEERS was awarded to this year's recipient of the ISMP Medication Safety Alert! Subscriber Award, Portsmouth Regional Hospital, a 144-bed community hospital in NH. During the past year, the hospital clearly used the newsletter as a cornerstone for its proactive medication error reduction efforts, incorporating many of the newsletter's recommendations into practice decisions and medication system improvements. We also send our CHEERS to many other subscribers who, throughout the year, sent us examples of how they used the newsletter to improve medication safety. We were so impressed with the efforts of many hospitals to use the newsletter to improve medication safety that we, again, selected a subscriber for honorable mention: Cleveland Clinic Foundation, in Cleveland, OH.

The CHEERS Awards concluded with presentation of the ISMP Lifetime Achievement Award to Kenneth Barker, PhD, RPh, Sterling Distinguished Professor at Auburn University School of Pharmacy and Director of the Auburn University Center for Pharmacy Operations Design in Birmingham, AL. Dr. Barker's career includes many accomplishments related to unit dose dispensing, the direct observation method of detecting errors, and pharmacy facility design and practice automation. Dr. Barker is the second recipient of this award, which is presented in memory of ISMP Trustee, David P. Vogel, RPh, MS.

In accepting the award, Dr. Barker noted: "Today, after a lifetime of research on medication errors…I am about convinced that we have done enough research. That's right. I am saying that we already know enough right now to achieve a very low error rate… Of course, we will still need studies to update results…and examine special settings, but the fact is, we know how to reduce and control the medication error rate and its consequences for patient care right now!"

Our collective challenge for the year 2003 is to apply what we already know to practice. We've been researching the problem for years, talking about it extensively, and planning strategies for reducing errors. Now, let's make 2003 a year of implementation. As Dr. Barker commented, "Although research can point the way, it is practitioners who take you there. As Nike says, let's Just Do It!"

We thank the many organizations and individuals who attended and/or sponsored our 2002 ISMP CHEERS Awards. Your support for this event is greatly appreciated.

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